Locals talk life & death in community art piece

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This Dying Matters Week, we hosted an interactive, community art project in Harlow!

A community art project led by St Clare Hospice stimulated thoughtful conversations in Harlow’s town centre on Tuesday 14th May, in celebration of national Dying Matters Awareness Week (13th– 19th May).

With three giant canvases for the public to write and draw on, the Hospice set up pitch on the morning of the 14th in The Harvey Centre, to encourage passers-by to talk about life, death and everything in between.

Each canvas was themed with a different topic: Before I die; When I die; and After I die; in line with this year’s theme #AreWeReady. Locals shared their thoughts, hopes and wishes on a range of topics, both humorous and serious, relating to life and death, including: personal goals or challenges; bucket list items; care planning for the end of life; funeral music; last meals; cremation and burial; and much more.

“The filled-up canvases tell it all,” says Sally Muylders, Community Engagement Manager at St Clare Hospice. “From family holidays and sentimental videos, to ‘making a million’ and having pie and mash as a last meal. Although talking about death and dying can be extremely difficult, Harlow’s shoppers did a very good job at addressing the subject! In fact, many agreed that talking about death and dying is absolutely crucial in ensuring that our wishes are known, so we can each experience death in the way we want to when the time comes.”

The community art project was organised as part of the annually celebrated Dying Matters Week, which is led by national charity Hospice UK and the National Council for Palliative Care.

Sally added, “Dying Matters Week is always a great opportunity for us to engage with the public about the importance of taking about death, dying and loss. The whole thing is such a taboo in the UK, and because of that many of us find ourselves with fear and anxiety at the thought of it, for our own deaths and for those we love – but it doesn’t always have to be that way. I think people are gradually coming around to the fact that talking about it can make things a little easier, which is what we found in Harlow during Dying Matters Week.

“Thank you so much to everyone who came and said hello to us in the Harvey Centre – it really was a pleasure to meet so many lovely, local people and its with thanks to you that we were able to host a successful campaign and talk to even more people about such an important topic. Our thanks also go to the Harvey Centre who also made the art project possible – their support for St Clare is always absolutely brilliant.”

St Clare is looking to display the artwork for local people to see at some point in the near future. Stay tuned on St Clare’s social media channels for more information.


Wills Month 2019

Dying Matters Week fell just ahead of St Clare Hospice’s annual Wills Month in June, giving local people and families the opportunity to make or amend their Will with a local solicitor for a donation to the Hospice. Find your local participating solicitor at: stclarehospice.org.uk/event/wills-month


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