Dying Matters Awareness Week Events Return!

Local funeral director, Freeman Brothers, is delighted to resume in-person events for Dying Matters Awareness Week 2022. The company was first established in Horsham, West Sussex, in 1855 and, since developing a Community team in 2017, Dying Matters Awareness Week has been an important time of year across all of the business’s branches, including Billingshurst, […]

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Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors staff member Becky

Local funeral director, Freeman Brothers, is delighted to resume in-person events for Dying Matters Awareness Week 2022. The company was first established in Horsham, West Sussex, in 1855 and, since developing a Community team in 2017, Dying Matters Awareness Week has been an important time of year across all of the business’s branches, including Billingshurst, Crawley and Hurstpierpoint. With only online events possible during the last two years, Community Co-Ordinator, Becky, discusses the upcoming programme for 2022…

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the first time since 2019 that the company has been able to host face-to-face events, with none taking place at all in 2020, and an online version only held in 2021. None of our decisions have been taken lightly and, whilst it makes complete sense given where we are in April 2022, when my team and I discussed Dying Matters events back in early January, we still felt that there was a slight risk for events planned in May.

So we’re all really pleased to have made it this far and be confident that in-person events are both viable and safe! More about those soon, as I’d first like to take the opportunity to remind readers of the purpose of the national campaign.

Dying Matters Awareness Week takes place annually in May. It is run by Hospice UK as part of the charity’s remit to ensure that people are adequately prepared for the end of life, whether that be by ensuring a care plan is in place, or seeing to other legal responsibilities. Dying Matters is now a well-established campaign, and aims to get people comfortable with discussing this challenging topic year-round, though with a conscious focus on this during the specified Awareness Week.

Previously, we had hosted events in our offices in Billingshurst, Crawley and Hurstpierpoint, as well as at The Butterfly Project and Age UK’s Lavinia House in Horsham. These events had been focused on encouraging members of the public to discuss their funeral wishes with those in their networks. We’d seen real positives from these events, having provided a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere for people to talk about something they typically find quite challenging.

During what were the earliest days of the pandemic, it did not seem right to offer events discussing funeral wishes for a number of reasons. In addition, face to face events weren’t possible in May 2020, and we weren’t yet in a position to deliver online events. Instead, we used space reserved in the West Sussex County Times and other publications to advertise our events to allow local charities to appeal for assistance free of charge.

By 2021, things had changed – with vaccines available, our way out of the pandemic was beginning to become clearer, though large events understandably still weren’t allowed. Having had more time to prepare, and the experience of running an online event in December 2020, we were now in a position to offer digital events, and organised two for Dying Matters Awareness Week. These events had a different focus from previous ones, instead running a collaborative session with partners from the wider funeral industry, and an information session specifically on Freeman Brothers. These sessions were recorded and remain available to view on demand via our YouTube Channel.

And that brings us to next month for Dying Matters Awareness Week 2022! The pandemic gave us an appreciation for the accessibility of online events, so we have committed to continuing to provide this service, and during Dying Matters Awareness Week in 2022, both opportunities will be available. The campaign continues to focus on the idea of ‘being In A Good Place to die’, and it is with this in mind that Freeman Brothers has created an event programme for 2022.

A series of three events is being produced in collaboration with Life and Bereavement Coach, Amanda Jones. She will be facilitating these sessions along the theme of ‘A Way Forward’. During these sessions, guests will be guided through the process of acknowledging how difficult the last two years have been living through the pandemic. However, the primary focus will be on how we can move forward in a way that is both healthy and purposeful. Each session will include a short mindfulness exercise, to ensure that people leave feeling grounded in the present.

It’s fantastic to be holding face to face events again, whilst continuing to prioritise safety. We’ve welcomed the challenge of producing online events and learned a lot – from how to integrate technology, to the fact that there is even an appetite for our events online! When it comes to discussing death and dying, many people feel more comfortable when they can meet with an expert in person, and share the experience with a like-minded group, so we are pleased to again be able to facilitate this.

The events are taking place on Tuesday 3rd May at Hills Cemetery Chapel, Horsham from 2.00pm to 3.30pm; Wednesday 4th May via Zoom from 7.00pm to 8.30pm; Thursday 5th May at Freeman Brothers, Billingshurst from 10.30am to 12.00pm. Places on each event are limited, so must be booked in advance, which you can do here.

The other event we are hosting during Dying Matters Awareness Week this year is at our Hurstpierpoint office. My colleague, Chrissie, was approached by our friends at the local St Peter and St James Hospice, with a request to host an information session. We were delighted to help and offer the chance to share more details about the Hospice’s work with the wider community. This event is a more casual, drop-in format, so booking isn’t necessary, and you are more than welcome to join us on Thursday 5th May at any time between 2.00pm and 5.00pm.

We’ll be providing refreshments to help facilitate conversation, and there will be some special four-legged visitors who I’m sure you’ll enjoy meeting! The Hospice staff will be running games and a colouring competition, to help engage members of the public in a fun way.

It’s going to be an interesting week for us all as a team – it’s a long time since we’ve been so busy with community events in this way, and we can’t wait to meet people for this purpose again.

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Written by Becky Hughes

Community Co-Ordinator

April 20, 2022

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Call us at any time on 01403 254590 or email mail@freemanbrothers.co.uk