Dying Matters Awareness Week 2020 – what is it and why does it matter?

07 May 2020

This year, the event takes place from 11 – 17 May, but in the wake of Coronavirus, it will inevitably be a little different to previous years.

Dying Matters Awareness Week 2020

As we find ourselves in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic, it seems that breaking the taboo around death and dying through open and honest conversations has never been more important. The annual Dying Matters Awareness Week is fast approaching and this year it is set to explore how we can all help people struggling with bereavement by listening first and foremost.

Dying Matters is a coalition of individual and organisational members, which aims to ensure we are prepared for death and dying as a society. On its website, Dying Matters states: “Our lack of openness [as a nation] has affected the quality and range of support and care services available to patients and families1.”

Traditionally, the coalition uses its influence to coordinate several events during the Awareness Week. Last year the theme was ‘Are We Ready?’ which got people talking about being ready for their own deaths and the deaths of those around them. In total, more than 400 events took place2. One event, held by Age Concern Gosport, invited people to come along for a free coffee, cake and chat to discuss the idea of being ready for death and what that means in a practical and emotional sense. Angela Gill, Chair of Trustees, said: “These free Coffee, Cake and Chat mornings were a great example of local charities and businesses working effectively together, to support the varied needs of people within the Gosport community3.”

This year, the event takes place from 11 – 17 May, but will inevitably be a little different to previous years. A number of events have been cancelled or postponed due to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, but other plans for the Awareness Week are set to continue.

Dying Matters recognises that there will be many additional deaths due to Covid-19, and advises: “It’s more important than ever that everyone makes their plans. We will all need to help each other with planning, with coping, with grieving, with remembering4.”

Whilst staying sensitive to the changing situation, Dying Matters will utilise social media to offer advice and support to a growing number of people with questions and concerns. The coalition is currently looking at ways to help those who may lose loved ones suddenly or before their time because of the virus. Another important talking point will be around funerals, and how current restrictions may impact our usual rituals for saying goodbye.

Please stay safe look out for the hashtag, #BeforeTheirTime on social media.

If you are a funeral director and have registered an event on the Dying Matters website which you need to cancel or change, here's how to have your listing updated.

1. Dying Matters, https://www.dyingmatters.org/overview/about-us, as seen at May 2020.
2. Dying Matters, https://www.dyingmatters.org/blog/dying-matters-2019-review, 18 October 2019.
3. Dying Matters, https://www.dyingmatters.org/page/dying-matters-week-age-concern-gosport, as seen at May 2020.
4. Dying Matters, https://www.dyingmatters.org/news/important-dying-matters-awareness-week-11-17-may, 17 March 2020.