Willen Hospice urges people to talk about dying, death and grief

Posted 10th May 2023

New research carried out by Willen Hospice highlights that 83% of people in Milton Keynes have experienced a bereavement in the last five years, yet only 19% of people find it very easy to talk to others about dying, death and grief.

The research coincides with Dying Matters Awareness week which takes place from 8-14 May across the UK and aims to create a compassionate society where people are comfortable talking about death, dying and grief. The theme for this year’s awareness week is ‘Dying Matters at work.’

Rachael Withe, Willen Hospice Marketing and Communications Manager, says, “The stigma that surrounds dying and grief means that many people struggle to cope when faced with the realities of life’s inevitable challenges. This often leaves people feeling isolated and alone. This year’s Dying Matters theme recognises that we spend so much of our lives at work and by simply talking openly to those around us, we are helping to make workplaces more compassionate, where people feel supported and confident supporting others.”

1 in 4 people surveyed by the palliative care charity revealed that they’ve had to stop work at some point to care for someone who has a life-limiting illness. In addition, 1 in 3 employees don’t know if their organisation has a bereavement policy and 17% of managers admitted to not feeling confident supporting a colleague who is bereaved.

Jenni Marks, Willen Hospice Therapeutic and Wellbeing Lead adds, “A large part of a person’s life and identity is their employment; being able to provide financially, having a daily routine, having a sense of purpose, and being able to socialise with colleagues. A life limiting illness can affect a person in many ways, and they often want to maintain a sense of ‘normality’ for a long as possible. The impact of their illness, such as stress, anxiety and physical symptoms can prove challenging at times. Being able to be open about what this impact is on their work and knowing that they have the support from their organisation makes a huge difference to a person’s experience and wellbeing.”

To help people encourage more conversations, Willen Hospice has a range of practical tools and resources on its website www.willen-hospice.org.uk/dyingmatters including videos, podcasts and book recommendations.

As well as running ‘Dying Matters to Us’ sessions for their own staff to encourage more open dialogue, the charity is also hosting a free seminar for local businesses on 18th May, sharing their specialist knowledge with business leaders and HR professionals. For more information on this event, please email corporate@willen-hospice.org.uk.