Death and Dying

“The idea of this option is to facilitate students’ exploration and discussion of death and dying from a creative perspective which in turn helps improve confidence in their thinking and talking about the topic. I have been thrilled to see students come alive in confidence as they move from generally being very hesitant, sometimes fearful, about the topic of death and dying, to enjoying and engaging with it. The aim is that they are enabled to address their own thoughts and feelings around death and dying and go on to work in this area with patients, but in the process they also produce amazing creative and often moving outcomes.”

Revd Canon Karen MacKinnon, Death and Dying Tutor

Memory Doll by Tessa Comley

How can a child articulate and protect the memories they hold of a loved one? I had the idea of creating a memory doll as a form of memorialisation and to help with communication about grief. People’s appearance can change, their skin can become thin, hair can be lost, but the doll represents the person when they were living. Filled with charms and symbols to represent the way they lived their life, my creative outcome can be used by the child as a token, gift or tool.

Creative Approach to Death and Dying by Charlotte Kember

Through my creative outcome, I aimed to comfort people who are afraid of the idea that there is non-existence following death. I was able to do this by showing that even after death, your body still has a purpose of providing life to create beauty in nature. This beauty can be experienced by others and can be comforting for the loved ones of the deceased.

by Charlotte Kember (Press play to turn the pages).
 Rushed in as an emergency
 Something that started as just a cough
 Rapid progression- something is wrong
 Ambulance staff radio ahead
 Oxygen levels are deteriorating 
 Your chest rattles 
 Your breath is raspy
 The pulse oximeter signals a disaster
 The verdict is Covid-19
 Straight to ICU- fear in everyone’s eyes
 One ICU bed left; the wards are crammed full
 We are not prepared for this
 Each breath is crackling Velcro
 Every intake hurts
 Gasping for air
 I stroke your hair with PPE covered hands
 Hidden facial expressions
 A comforting smile to mask the pain
 But this smile is hidden by necessary protection
 You cannot see my empathy, only my eyes
 Desperate to see your loved ones, feeling alone
 Your family is forced to isolate and worry at home
 No visitors in ICU, it is far too dangerous
 Time is running out
 The fear in your eyes is destructive- it is clear you are scared of death
 No time to adjust to the possibility of dying- the deterioration is too rapid
 Aware of your surroundings, but quarantine prevents any goodbyes
 Restriction on freedoms and isolated loved ones
 Dementia does not understand Covid
 With its confusing rules and restrictions
 Quarantined to their bedrooms
 So difficult to explain why
 With nothing to look forward to, what’s the point of getting out of bed?
 Communal areas closed and activities cancelled, what’s the incentive to live?
 Void of visitors; void of love and compassion
 With the pandemic we are scared to hold each other’s hands
 Months and months of isolation
 You think your family does not care, causing a spiralling descent into depression
 No comforting, no interaction, no social discussion, or combing of your hair
 Your quality of life is fading, and deterioration is inevitable
 Dementia is worsened by mandatory segregation
 Alternative interventions: we try the video calls
 The remoteness is a struggle and lacks the human touch
 Telephone calls are quickly forgotten
 And regardless they are not the same
 Having visitors in the home is what keeps the residents sane
 Family and friends provide a purpose beyond comprehension
 Covid sees no boundaries, so to mitigate the risk 
 The doors remain closed
 To protect the vulnerable residents 
 However, the secondary causes of Covid are heightened 
 Social isolation, loneliness and depression escalate dementia progression
 Many become bed bound due to a lack of movement
 Everything is purposeless, nothing is worth doing
 No familiarity for the elderly is ruthless 
 Never more than 30 mourners
 Is it even a funeral at all?
 So many people have lost their loved ones
 Grieving in covid is unjust
 Bereavement services with little human contact
 A sterile 2 metre seating plan, unforgiving and uncaring
 No room for grief in the pandemic
 Unable to hug each-other
 Unable to support each-other
 Tears and snuffles behind the mask
 The death of a loved one brings excruciating pain in any circumstance
 March 2020 brought with it a dramatic change
 Mourning in isolation exacerbates the pain
 Extended friends and family watch it from afar
 They see and hear the ceremony from the comfort of their living room
 Forced to witness the despair of those attending
 A travel ban from abroad is both a physical and mental barrier
 Relatives log in from countries afar
 Virtual comfort does not compare to the physical touch of a loved one
 How impersonal, how unjust for the deceased
 No wake to celebrate the life of somebody special
 Emotional turmoil
 Depression, segregation, separation
 We must not forget the heroes of Covid
 Those who sacrificed their lives to heal others
 Courageous but fearful, resiliently selfless
 Overwhelming workload: everybody is so tired
 Sleeping inhouse to be on call
 Missed every day by their families at home
 Superheroes in disguise
 But they are unable to save the lives of every Covid patient
 The cases are rising; 3 more nurses have died
 Protecting the nation and full of pride
 Healthcare workers have been neglected consistently 
 Their health and wellbeing devastated by Covid
 Covid has killed in more ways than we think
 Depression, suicide, self-neglect and fatigue
 Burn out and isolation
 Nurses are unable to meet their own needs
 When will this turmoil end?
 Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?
 And does this light depict death or new life?
 Covid has killed so many and so cruelly
 We mourn for the victims of the inhumane disease
 We mourn for the healthcare workers who have risked their lives
 And every single patient lying alone in their bed
 We mourn for those who have lost their loved ones
 And those who have mourned in solitary
 - Chloe Barltrop -