Policy and Public Affairs Manager Duncan is used to being immersed in England's end of life policy work. But one week each year, Dying Matters Awareness Week, always prompts him to remove his 'professional mask' and think – really think – about what it is all for.
Usually when I blog, it’s to talk about about some change to the law or to talk about an issue that is affecting people across the country. Today I’m writing something a bit more personal.
It’s Dying Matters Awareness Week, and this is a time of year when I think about death a bit more than usual. That might seem like a strange thing for me to say, given that one of the key areas I work on is end of life policy, but sometimes working on a topic every day can serve to insulate you from it a bit, and introduce a bit of ‘professional detachment’ from an issue.
The week happens every May, and it is all about trying to get people thinking and talking about dying, death and bereavement. The theme of the week this year is ‘What Can You Do?’, and is concerned with planning ahead, and helping to support people who might need help in times of grief and bereavement.
What can I do?
During Dying Matters Awareness Week, maintaining this professional distance is much harder. The week is really important to me personally as it gives me a prompt to think about death and dying a bit – as a private citizen, as opposed to someone that works on these things every day as part of my job.
It gives me a prompt to think about what plans I’ve got in place – and what plans I haven’t yet made – and it makes me more aware of those around me who are confronting these issues as well.
So, this week, I’ll be leafing through some of the resources on the Dying Matters website. I’ll be looking to pick up some practical ways I can help others, and some prompts for my own thinking and planning for the future. I’d like to encourage you to do the same.
And remember: if you are someone who is facing bereavement or the death of a loved one, Sue Ryder has a free online community for people in this situation, where they can provide each other with support.
Please, this week of all weeks, reach out if you need it.
Policy and Public Affairs Manager (England)