Church of England launches national conversation about death and dying

The Church of England has launched a new national resource to help churches get people talking about death and dying.


GraveTalk, provides resources for a café space in which churches provide a relaxed environment for people to explore questions about death and dying, funerals and loss. It was launched yesterday (Monday 18 May) as part of Dying Awareness Week (May 17-23), is run by the Dying Matters coalition, and made up of more than 30,000 members including the Church of England.


The resources include a pack of 52 questions about life, death, society, funerals and grief to help people start discussions. It has been piloted in more than 100 parishes and is available at a dedicated website


Question cards include: ‘What would you like your lasting legacy to be?’, ‘How do you feel about being asked to wear bright colours at a funeral’, to ‘What music would you like to have played or sung at your funeral?’


Recent research from Mintel (2014) shows the need for GraveTalk, showing that less than one in five (16%) people have made written funeral plans. The research highlighted that many people who want to make a funeral plan haven’t yet done so, with three fifths (61%) of respondents feeling that it was important to make at least some plans for the kind of funeral they’d like to have.


The Rev Canon Sandra Millar, head of Projects and Development for the Archbishops’ Council said: “The Church of England is the biggest single provider of funerals in England, with around 3,300 funerals held each week in churches, crematoria, cemeteries and green burial sites all being led by Church of England ministers – clergy and readers.


“We have been helping people to think about the big questions of life and death for generations. Our local clergy and lay people are a valuable source of support and help at every stage. Whether it is thinking about what hymns and readings you might want in your funeral service, or finding someone to listen during the painful journey of grief, a local church can play a big part in getting people talking about death and dying.”


Claire Henry, Chief Executive of the National Council for Palliative Care, which leads the Dying Matters Coalition, backed GraveTalk and the vital role the CofE plays:


“Dying is a fundamental part of life, reflected by the fact that every week the Church of England conducts over 3,000 funerals attended by around 200,000 people. However, despite some encouraging progress many of us are still very reluctant to talk openly about dying, death and bereavement and are risking leaving it too late to make our end of life wishes known.


“That’s why GraveTalk is such an important initiative and why the new resources that have been launched are so needed. Talking about dying and planning ahead may not always be easy, but it can help you to make the most of life and spare your loved ones from making difficult decisions about what you would have wanted.”

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