Dying Matters Awareness Week is a nationwide campaign taking place from Monday 8th May – Sunday 14th May 2023, encouraging people to have open and honest conversations about death and grief, whilst tackling the stigma surrounding difficult subjects.
This year’s theme for Dying Matters Awareness Week will focus on Dying Matters At Work, ensuring workplaces are properly equipped to provide care and support to those who are ill, caring for a person who may be at the end of their life or have already lost a loved one.
To help tackle the stigma and open up conversations about grief and death, our very own Springhill staff are sharing what Dying Matters Week means to them.
Supporting our colleagues or employees might sound difficult or scary, and we might feel that we don’t know where to start or what to say, but it’s not rocket science. A simple “Are you okay?” or “How have you been since you lost your loved one?”
Hi. My name is Joanne Maxwell, and I’m a Specialist Bereavement Counsellor here at Springhill Hospice. Alongside my colleagues, I work with family members and loved ones to support people through their grief and loss. It’s just a coincidence that I’ve been in my job role for exactly 10 years during Dying Matters week, but it’s been a good opportunity to reflect on why I’ve been here for so long.
I was originally employed on a one year basis, but I liked it so much that they would have to use a crowbar to get me out these days. As a team, the staff at Springhill Hospice move mountains daily to ensure that patients and their families receive the best care we can provide, and we look after each other into the bargain. It seems that when staff feel well supported by those around them, they give their best at work.
This is an important message for this year’s Dying Matters week, with its theme of death, dying and grief in the workplace.
Grief is everywhere, and there will be someone in most workplaces who is living with the pain of loss and bereavement.
Sometimes it’s invisible, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not there. Supporting our colleagues or employees might sound difficult or scary, and we might feel that we don’t know where to start or what to say, but it’s not rocket science. A simple “Are you okay?” or “How have you been since you lost your loved one?” might be enough to open a conversation and alter the course of someone’s day. A little empathy can go a long way, even if we don’t do anything practical. Of course, employers have to fulfil their obligations around bereavement leave etc.. Still, once that’s over, people will forget the details and remember whether their workmates treated them with kindness and compassion. So next time you crack open the tea and biscuits, maybe take a moment to check out how your colleagues are feeling.
For Dying Matters Week, I’ve been asked what would be on my bucket list, and I’ve found that my hopes and wishes are a bit unambitious. I’m telling myself that it’s because I lead a contented life. I would love to have a book published, visit a friend in New Zealand, and win “Best in Show” at our annual allotment get-together. I think I’d better start with the easiest then and go find my gardening gloves and wellies.
I help to manage people’s symptoms when they have a life-limiting illness. Doing this job makes you realise that life is far too short to wait to do the things that you want to do.