It’s not exactly a standard conversation starter but the subject of death and dying will be on the lips of everyone involved in a new council-led initiative.
Despite its taboo nature, those organising the first ever Good Death Week event in Falkirk district firmly believe it’s a discussion which must take place sooner rather than later to prevent unnecessary complications for the family of the deceased.
The project, which is held worldwide, will run from Sunday, May 12 to Sunday, May 19 with the aim of removing the stigma around the topic and promoting the positives that come with being open about dying and bereavement.
The newly refurbished Falkirk Crematorium will act as the setting for the Good Death Week opening event, with manager William Candlish leading five guided 45-minute tours of the venue to give visitors an insight into its process, as well as a chance to raise any questions they may have.
Various organisations will have information stalls at the Dorrator Road facility on May 12 and 19, including NHS Bereavement Services, Strathcarron Hospice, Falkirk Council Advice and Support Hub, Pushing Up The Daisies and End of Life Doula UK.
The following day archaeologist Geoff Bailey will then deliver an illustrated talk on the Historic Graveyards of Falkirk District at the Camelon-based crematorium, before leading a guided history walk round Camelon Cemetery on Tuesday, May 14.
Light will also be shed on a process which can sometimes lead to funerals being delayed when Dr Fiona Downs gives a presentation entitled An Insight into the Death Certification Review Service at the crematorium on Wednesday, May 15.
Taking a light-hearted approach to death can be tough, however, solicitor Chris Sheldon will try to inject some humour into proceedings on Thursday, May 16 when he tells a selection of anecdotal stories in his Wills I Have Known talk and Q and A session.
The final day of Good Death Week, Sunday, May 19, will offer five more guided tours of the crematorium, plus a Death Cafe where people can discuss their thoughts on the matter in a relaxed setting while enjoying free tea and cake.
The short film Holding Space, a documentary about preparing for death, will also be screened at Falkirk Crematorium. Its director, Rebecca Kenyon, will be in attendance to discuss death midwives — or doulas — with the audience. The initiative is to be brought to an end with a Plan Your Own Funeral session, also at the crematorium.
Jessica Paterson, Falkirk Council estates development officer, said: “It’s better for society to be more open about talking about death and dying because there can be so many problems at the end of life and when people are trying to arrange a funeral for a loved one if they don’t know what that person’s wishes are.
“People can get ripped off over funeral costs as it’s a time when people are really vulnerable and stressed and they can sometimes end up paying for things afterwards they might regret. We are trying to shed some light on the issue and encourage openness and discussion around death and dying.”
Below are the details for Good Death Week in Falkirk district:
Sunday, May 12: Guided tours of Falkirk Crematorium (10am, 11am, 12pm, 2.15pm and 3.15pm).
Monday, May 13: Historic Graveyards of Falkirk District illustrated talk at Falkirk Crematorium Chapel (7.30pm).
Tuesday, May 14: Guided history walk in Camelon Cemetery (6.30pm).
Wednesday, May 15: An Insight into the Death Certification Review Service at Falkirk Crematorium Chapel (7.30pm).
Thursday, May 16: Wills I Have Known presentation at Falkirk Crematorium Chapel (7.30pm).
Sunday, May 19: Guided tours of Falkirk Crematorium (10am, 11am, 12pm, 2.15pm and 3.15pm); Death Cafe (11am); screening of short film Holding Space at Falkirk Crematorium (1pm); and Plan Your Own Funeral at Falkirk Crematorium (2pm).
For more information and to book tickets, visit www.falkirk.gov.uk/gooddeath.