Manchester, News

Dying Matters Event Tackles the Questions of What Happens When You Die

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By Jack Holmes

Ever considered what’s actually going to happen when you die? No, I don’t mean the philosophical spiritual dilemmas of whether you’re going to find yourself at some pearly gates or reincarnated into a worm, fly or some kind of mollusk. I mean what happens to you on this current plane of existence.

Since 2009 the National Council for Palliative Care set up the ‘Dying Matters Coalition’, a body to encourage public awareness of dying and bereavement. It’s not an easy job for the members who come from across the NHS, independent health sectors, hospice care and general volunteers. It can feel easier for us as humans to simply ignore the fact that our time on this earth is finite, but that certainly doesn’t change the fact that at some point, we are all going to die.

Dying Matters attempts to move past this initial fear of death however, and last week held their annual awareness week, featuring funeral home open days, laughter therapy, training sessions and even workshops on the creation of wills.

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Friday saw Dying Matters host an event at Manchester’s St Annes Square, with various musicians, musicians, choirs and dramatic pieces. Real Live Poets Society, a group of poets who hold meetings the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month in the Lass O’Gowrie pub, took to the stage to share their poetry about dealing with the stages of death.

Poets focussed on the loss of loved ones, others from their own experiences of how they perceive death, but trust me, it’s not as bleak as you might be expecting. One of the founders of the poetry group and MA Creative Writing student Andy Hickmott, spoke about his enthusiasm of “such a great cause.” He explained the event was to raise awareness and “the goal is just to make people stop and take a leaflet”.

The poetry groups were joined by a capella quoir consisting of cancer survivors later on for a mix of music and poetry, giving passers-by something to stop, watch and be entertained by, and hopefully strike up a conversation with one of the many Dying Matters volunteers nearby.

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With regular use of humour, not just from the Real Live Poets, but from all of the acts, the event is given an uplifting tone. Rather than simply reminding the people of Manchester of their inevitable deaths alone, they remind the public that there are things we can do to both prepare for the time, as well as help others going through the experience.

If you’d like to learn more about the Dying Matters group you can check out their website and Twitter. You can follow Real Live Poets on Facebook if you’re interested in getting involved with some poetry that focuses on the huge emotions that come with life, death and bereavement.

You can view photographs from the day here and join the conversation over on Twitter @HumanityHallows and @Holmesblogs

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aAh!

aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

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