The Death Conversation

The Death Conversation is about discussing and sharing anything and everything relating to the topics of death and dying. We recognise that death has become a taboo subject and yet it is the Great Equaliser and a Universal Truth. We can learn to lead fuller, happier lives if we join the conversation.

The Death Conversation questions norms relating to things you may not have thought about such as:

Dying at home

There is now a tangible movement and various people and organisations that can offer guidance if you would like to die at home. For many people home is the safest, most comfortable place to be. An obvious place to die in days gone by. We can give you help with the facts you need to know and consider if you would like to make this happen for yourself or someone who is dying.

Being in control

We may have allowed doctors and funeral professionals to take over death for us – and consequently lost control of how and where we die. Since the process of death is inevitable, might we think of taking control back? Would you rather die in hospital or at home?

Dying does not have to be a complicated process. Once we accept its inevitability we can set to work getting comfortable.

Natural burial

The good people at The Natural Death Centre are also busy running The Association of Natural Burial Grounds – working to ensure the highest standards of burial ground operation are achieved. They are the obvious go-to resource to discover everything you need to know about this beautiful, sensible, environmentally sound option.

Caring for people through death and beyond

We believe that the excellent levels of care that a dying person may receive in a hospice or at home should continue through to the care of the body, the family and community when it comes to making the funeral arrangements. We passionately demonstrate the highest levels of care for everyone involved.

What constitutes a good death?

This is a more philosophical question. It is up to the individual. Broadly our instinct is that a good death is one where the dying person is truly listened to in order that they gain control.

The Conversation Game – Conversations for Life is a simple card game – a great tool to spark discussions, getting people to think and talk about positive values and goals for having the best end-of-life possible for each individual. These cards are available online and as part of the excellent care offered at hospices such as Martlets.

Grief and grieving

Grief can be a strange, unpredictable monster. It can be all the emotions at once, in any order. Help is out there to support you to make your own sense of the unthinkable. There are many bereavement support options, such as Cruse.

The team

Here are some of the most amazing organisations we've come across which are working towards empowering and educating people when it comes to death:

The Good Funeral Guide

The Good Funeral Guide is a trusted, independent, not-for-profit resource. They are there to help you arrange the funeral you want. The Good Funeral Guide is an excellent resource – read the book and follow the blog. It includes resources such as full legal advice about what happens when somebody dies – information you would struggle to find so clearly laid out anywhere else.

The Natural Death Centre

The Natural Death Centre (NDC) is a charity whose comprehensive ‘Natural Death Handbook’ offer an incredible resource. The NDC were instrumental in establishing the natural burial movement and also turn their attention to families who would like to participate in a Direct-It-Yourself funeral.

Dying Matters
Dying Matters organise Dying Awareness week every May. Check out local events relating to this campaign, and see if there is a local Death Café you could attend. If there isn’t one then think about starting your own – find out how here.

The Order of the Good Death
The Order of the Good Death was established by LA based mortician Caitlin Doughty. The Order is about making death a part of your life. That means committing to staring down your death fears – whether it be your own death, the death of those you love, the pain of dying, the afterlife (or lack thereof), grief, corpses, bodily decomposition, or all of the above. Find out some facts from Caitlin’s ‘Ask A Mortician’ Youtube channel.

Join the conversation

If you’re interested in the Death Conversation, tune in by following these social media pages and hashtags:

There so much out there relating to this vast and varied topic. If you come across anything that interests you please share on our Facebook page.

Death in Brighton

There is plenty going on a local level too.

East Sussex Death Cafés are well-attended interesting events - you never quite now who you'll meet. They are popping up all over the place. We have attended lovely ones in Lewes and Brighton, you can find out more details on Facebook. Death café is a successful global organisation - there might already be one near you - if there isn't then you can start your very own. Find out how here.

Tora and Sooxanne Rolfe curated a 'Death In Brighton' event at the Spiegletent for Brighton Festival. Find out more here.

Tora and The Modern Funeral also collaborate with Cara and the team at Arka Original Funerals to bring you Brighton Death Forum - an umbrella organisation that exists to help get the conversation a little louder.

As part of Dying Matters Awareness Week and Brighton Fringe we organised a daytime festival event in the grounds of the Extra-Mural Chapel and Cemetery. There was a performance about death rituals cheekily titled 'Crème de la Crem', and tours of the crematorium - behind the theatre, into the operation of the place. The gorgeous tomb trail setting provided space to show practical funeral options - alternative hearses, coffin making and decorating displays, good coffee and food stalls, many photo opportunities, and quiet spaces for discussion. There was a thoughtful ritual for loved ones lost followed by a dove release. Musicians, singers, and craftsmen show-cased their funeral-related talents.

Keep an eye on our future events by following the Brighton Death Forum Facebook page.

Further reading

More To Death magazine is The Natural Death Centre’s official magazine. There are some of our articles and past issues on the site and if you like what you read you can subscribe to the digital magazine for free.

A bibliography of things that have inspired us:

Abdeen, Khawla Basheer – Death and its Rules
Barnes, Julian – Nothing To Be Frightened Of
Cathcart, Thomas and Klein, Daniel – Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates
Davies, Douglas – A Brief History of Death
Davies, Douglas and Rumble, Hannah – Natural Burial – Traditional-Secular Spiritualities and Funeral Innovation
Doughty, Caitlin – Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
Lynch, Thomas – The Undertaking
Mitford, Jessica – The American Way of Death revisited
Morris, Virginia – Talking about death won’t kill you
Nuland, Sherwin B. – How We Die
Shields, David – The thing about life is that one day you’ll be dead
The Tibetan Book of the Dead
Academics – Tony Walter – Death Studies at Bath University
Watkins, Carl – The Undiscovered Country – Journeys Among the Dead

If you come across any other interesting titles then share them with us on our Facebook page!

If you have any bright ideas about how we can get people talking about death - exhibitions, talks, performances - just let us know if we can help in any way.

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