Let's Talk Death
Death comes to us all, and is understandably something that many people fear to discuss.
However talking about it does not make it any more likely to happen – but not talking about it can mean that peoples’ wishes and preferences for the end of life are not known about by the people who are most important to them.
There are limited public spaces in which discussion of death and dying is acceptable, and this often means that the first time people are encouraged to talk about such things is when they are facing their own death, or that of a loved one. This can make it a much more difficult conversation.
“Let’s Talk Death” is a collaboration between staff and students at the University of Bradford, and individuals and organisations outside the University, who have come together for the shared purpose of creating and sustaining a supportive community of learning and practice. Originally formed in 2014 in the School of Nursing, the group has since grown in strength and diversity.
We aim to encourage public conversations about death and dying and to create safe spaces in which discussion can take place. We offer a range of ways of doing this – collaborative blogs, social media and organised events such as Death Cafes, seminars and conferences.
If you are interested in finding out more please get in touch.
We are a group of staff and students at the University of Bradford with an interest in death, dying and grief. Many of us are pre-registration nursing students, across adult, children and mental health nursing.
We believe that death is something that is not talked about and that this can make it harder for us as individuals but also for those who care for others.
I never really intended to become a Macmillan nurse… I started out in medicine, then philosophy, then midwifery, and then a combination of personal bereavements and an inspiring and life-changing clinical placement in palliative care opened my eyes to death; the beautiful, the tragic, the amazing, the difficult.
I am passionate about end of life care, and about opening up conversations about death and dying with friends, families, colleagues and society, so that we can learn to appreciate this world while we are still breathing. As Kirkegaard says, “life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards”
My name is Dorcas and I am a newly qualified staff nurse working on a busy respiratory ward.
I first became involved with Let’s Talk Death during an End of Life care lecture when I was a student nurse at the University of Bradford. Laura Middleton-Green (our lecturer) mentioned death cafes – almost in passing – and instead of asking “what is a death café?” (which would have probably been a good idea) I asked, “can we do a death café?”… and so Let’s Talk Death was born.
I didn’t really know anything about death cafés, but I was very intrigued by the whole idea. In both my personal and professional life I have experienced times where communication around death and dying has been a definite downfall in people’s care – whether that be the care we, as health professionals, provide for our patients, or the care and concern we have for our own friends and family at the end of their life or at a time of bereavement.
Being involved with the death café has introduced me to new ideas and perspectives, opportunities to meet new people and to access information and resources that I might not otherwise have even known existed. My confidence in talking about death has definitely grown, and this enables me to have open and honest conversations with people about death and dying – both at work and at home. We all care for somebody and for ourselves - and communication is the cornerstone to good care. Communication about death is no exception. As a society, we’ve hidden death away over the years, we don’t see it or speak about it in our everyday lives. But it hasn’t gone away.
Attending death cafes or engaging in conversations about death doesn’t mean that you want to die, or that it will happen any sooner, but it can help to make it a more normal and natural thing. And death is, after all, one of the most natural things in the world.
My name is Alan Blighe and I’m a researcher in the Centre for Applied Dementia Studies at the University of Bradford.
Coming from a big extended family, death and funerals were a common feature of my childhood. As I grew up I became interested in how people engage with death in general, and bereavement in particular. This led to me working for a time as a bereavement counsellor with Cruse, where I learned first-hand about how interconnected we are, and how difficult it is to cope when those connections break down.
I’m new to the Death Café movement, but I’m eager to learn more and help promote awareness of death, dying and what happens to those left behind.
I’m Ben a final year adult nursing student. I have three nursing interests; End of life care, tropical medicine and emergency care.
I have an Accident and Emergency background, giving me an appreciation of how life can change quickly. It is with this in mind that my interest grew. Start “the” conversation, plan and appreciate the end of our lives.
Hello I’m Leon, a Final Year Adult Nursing student at The University of Bradford. I have special nursing interest in critical care and ways to provide excellent palliative care within acute environments.
My Name is Fallon Scaife and I am a third year adult nursing student at the university of Bradford.
I have always had an interest in palliative care and have enjoyed the opportunity I have been given to take part in the death cafe. I joined the team last year following the sudden death of a friend that I found difficult to come to terms with. I have found that being involved in the death cafe has helped me come to terms with my friends death as well as given me the experience of having difficult conversations.
As a nurse I will be expected to do this all the time and I am really grateful that I have had the chance to experience this with the support of university lecturers and other students. I have also started to think about planning for the future myself and have had conversations with my family that they have found difficult. It is not easy to remove the stigma from talking about death and dying but I feel that being involved in events like these will help with this.
Hi, my name is Kate Palmer and I have a back ground in teaching and community work. I am currently in my final year of the mental health nursing degree at the University of Bradford, with an interest in recovery-oriented practice and psychological and creative therapies.
My interest in 'Let's Talk Death' comes from being moved to explore questions, thoughts and feelings around death and dying. Death is a part of life, so why is it so difficult to talk about? In the struggle to make sense of and meaning from our experience, how do we relate to our beliefs about death, ourselves and each other? How we can acknowledge and connect through our shared experience of loss and how we can gain strength and rise from crippling grief with insight and hope?
The idea of a Death Café appeals as a safe, gentle space to talk about whatever we want about death and dying. It's about being part of a conversation, where it's perfectly ok to sit, listen and reflect over a brew and cake. I like how the conversation moves around subjects; about arranging a funeral, showing a photograph of a loved one, a funny story at a funeral, an aspect of grief. I like to talk about death as an important part of life and that's why I am involved in 'Let's Talk Death'.
Visit the Dying Matters website
Click here for news, resources and information for those interested in the issues surrounding death and dying
Calderdale Dying Matters Facebook page
Click here to visit the CDMP Facebook page, and get involved in the discussion around the topics of death and dying
In the Media
Tackling the Taboo
Telegraph and Argus, 9/5/2016
University hosts death café
Telegraph and Argus, 18/5/2016
Bringing death 'out of the shadows'
Telegraph and Argus, 10/6/2016
Related programmes and modules at the University of Bradford
If you are interested in expanding your knowledge of the issues around death and dying at Postgraduate level, a number of full programmes or individual modules (short courses) are available.
- MSc Professional Healthcare Practice (End of Life Care)
- MSc Professional Healthcare Practice (Cancer Care)
- Supporting Those Facing Loss module
- Symptom Management in Life Limiting Illnesses module
- Advanced Communication Skills module
For more information on our Postgraduate / Post-Registration programmes, including funding sources and guidance on making an application, visit our Postgraduate and Professional programmes section.