Getting over the name

Now more than ever we are aware of how easily life can change. The Pandemic has taught us many things and thrown us in urgent discussions around death and dying that we probably never thought we would. Most of you probably think you get it, you understand it, you know it’s going to happen one day, but hope that day will be a long way off,  but you would rather not talk about it too much…

Ask yourself why?The inevitability of death can’t be escaped and yet unless something happens in our lives to force us to confront it we still walk around as if it will always happen to someone else.

I’ve worked in cancer nursing for most of my career as a nurse and have been privileged to be with many patients right up to their death. I can remember all of them. All were different and all taught me lessons.

I set up Grief Wellies, as I say in my introduction, following the death of my own mother. I nursed her at home in her final weeks and sat with her as she died. My mum was always a busy person, very affectionate but very practical so to have that unique time of just being was so very special. She said a few days before she died that she wanted it to be just her and me “at the end”. Despite calling in neighbours, family visiting etc etc she kept bringing herself  back no doubt so not to be rude as she always felt you shouldn’t ignore guests and definitely no sleeping!! Then when everyone was gone, my father taking a shower, my brother downstairs making breakfast, no doubt thinking I was exaggerating when I had prepared them that she was definitely going to die, yet still she kept going. Once it was just her and me, quiet no noise, except her breath and me trying not to cry loudly… she died.. It was as beautiful as it could be and her last gift to me – poetic in so far as she brought me into this world, just her and me so very fitting it should be reversed when she left.

Someone asked me at our Death Cafe this week what is it like to watch someone die? There is a definite time when the person leaves and the body merely goes through the mechanics of shutting down. Difficult to describe other than a feeling in a moment that they are no longer there, even though they are physically.

So to have a space where we can talk about this isn’t morbid – it’s just practical. If we wait until we are thrown into the anguish of losing someone we care deeply about then there will always be unanswered questions, ifs and maybe’s about whether you “did the right thing” and dilemmas about decisions made.

The Death Cafe movement is an important step to trying to open up the conversation and break some of the taboos – no question to silly – no answer too shocking – no expectations other than a joint purpose of wanting to explore and understand better.

There’s no such thing as a perfect death.

There’s no such thing as a perfect life

But so much focus is spent on preparing for birth, on rearing our children and on planning our lives – it’s time to plan for our conclusion of death which will come in time and surprise us all if we are not careful.

The impact of death is always personal and private – there are no rules – it will effect you in ways that are not expected but by exploring some of those possible emotions and practical hurdles we can give ourselves the benefit of the doubt and try to give ourselves and those around us a head start.

Read more about what a Death Cafe is about here 

Our next Death Cafe is on Thursday 18th November 5pm to 7pm


The Place Bedford

Bradgate Road


MK40 3DE