OPENING up about the death can be particularly difficult for many of us as it can bring an array of emotions to the surface.

This is why Dying Awareness Week is held every year to encourage communities and individuals to come together to speak about death, dying and bereavement.

As part of this week-long initiative, St Helena Hospice - which supports people across north Essex - is collaborating with two hospices in Suffolk to promote ways people can support one another during the most difficult times in their lives.

Nicola Button, head of partnerships at St Helena Hospice, said: “Dying Matters Awareness Week is as good a time as any to talk about dying and death.

“It can be an awkward and uncomfortable subject to approach, but it is so important to have these conversations with our loved ones about what we want to happen at the end of life, where we want to be and to share our wishes.

“As well as talking about it, it’s just as vital that we listen to loved ones when they’re trying to have these conversations.

“Sadly because of the pandemic, people are becoming unwell more quickly and families are separated, so in some cases, people aren’t able to have these conversations, so take the time now, whilst you can, to sit down with those close to you and talk about what’s important to you and them.”

The hospice, which is working with St Elizabeth Hospice, which is based in Ipswich, and St Nicholas Hospice Care, in Bury St Edmunds, through their involvement in the Compassionate Communities project.

Compassionate Communities is a national approach which supplements the support given by healthcare providers by offering resources and guidance to enable the public to feel more confident in having conversations surrounding the taboo topics of bereavement, death and dying.

Read more:

Nicola added: “St Helena Hopsice is in the early days of developing our Compassionate Communities project, and we’re delighted to be working with our neighbouring hospices to share learnings and best practises to help shape the future of the project.

“Our aim with Compassionate Communities is to educate and empower our local community so they feel more able to cope with issues of dying, death and bereavement, to ensure all dying people in the area and their families are supported to achieve the end-of-life wishes that matter to them and to address and reduce the inequity in access to end of life care for minority and hard to reach groups.”

St Helena Hospice already offers a range of services for people with life-limiting conditions and their families.

They include in-patient care and care at home and a bereavement service for surviving friends and family.

The collaboration between the three hospices will see them host a number of online events which will offer guidance to people during some of the most difficult times in their lives, such as the death of a loved one or the diagnosis of a serious, life-changing illness.

More than 30 events will be held both online and in person during the awareness week, including events on care and loss during the pandemic, talking about death and planning for the end of life.

A number of practical online workshops will also be hosted for the public to learn more about Compassionate Communities and support available for bereavement and end-of-life care.

To find out more or to get involved, email or visit