General News

Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief

How can we help and feel better equipped to support each other through the difficult times that come with death, dying and bereavement?

IMG_5641.JPGOn Saturday, December 1st, 2012, in an effort to get to grips with this question, there was a most interesting talk here at Mayfield Salisbury by Mark Hazelwood, Chief Executive Officer of the Scottish Palliative Care Partnership.  In 2011 Mayfield Salisbury held a Festival of Ageing and Faith and this event was part of that on-going initiative. It was also another of the joint events organised in conjunction with our neighbours: St Columba’s Roman Catholic Church.

We were greeted with coffee and shortbread and conversations were thus flowing easily from the start. The minister, Revd Scott McKenna, welcomed us and introduced Mike Hazelwood, who, through a variety of different approaches, then sought to increase our knowledge of how death and grieving are viewed in Scotland today. There was a look at how celebrity death can create mourning which, fuelled by the media, borders on hysteria, when few can have known the person intimately. Often the media seems obsessed with death: Elvis, Princess Diana, Jade Goody, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston. Yet, the computer game TV advert which showed a baby from birth to the grave was banned as tasteless. There were filmed interviews from the streets of Paisley, Elgin and Inverness, which showed how people were willing to talk to a stranger about grieving, death and funerals but frequently admitted that they did not discuss such things with those they knew. There were fascinating statistics too on how things have changed. Hunger, childbirth and infection used to be the main cause of death, and sudden death and young death were common, now it is cancer, organ failure and frailty, both physical and mental, and death is more usually gradual and in our later years. Where we die has changed too. In 1949, 81% of people died at home, and this is still what most people hope for, but today only 23% die at home. Alongside this there have been huge social changes: church attendance has fallen and fewer now have a framework of meaning and belief; communities and families are less stable, more mobile, so society is more fractured and emotional support from others is no longer universal.

Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief, is an organisation which is working to make Scotland a place where there is more openness about IMG_5639.JPGdeath, so that people feel better equipped to face it themselves and support each other. The aims of the organisation are to bring together individuals and organisations which share this vision. It was established in January 2011 when the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care invited individuals to join a small stakeholder group. More details of their work and how to support them are available at www.goodlifedeathgrief.org.uk 

The talk was followed by a question and answer session which ranged widely over the training of nurses and doctors; the roles of the GP and the hospital doctor; the work of hospices; the Liverpool Care Pathway; work in schools; and how we can all help each other by combating isolation.

Revd Scott McKenna thanked Mark Hazelwood very much indeed for his most interesting presentation and, on such a frosty day, the bowls of hot soup then on offer were very much appreciated, as was the chance to talk about what we had heard.

 

 

Contact Information

Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church,
18 West Mayfield,
Edinburgh,
EH9 1TQ

0131 667 1522 / 0780 801 1234

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Scottish Charity Number: SC000785

Quotations

  • Because God is both knowable and unknowable the tension of the symbol, the multilayers of the myth and the openness of the poetic are all vital to our desire to celebrate the Mystery to whom we relate and in whom we have our being.
    Mark Oakley

  • You must love him as he is: neither God, nor spirit, nor image; even more, the One without commingling, pure, luminous ...

    Meister Eckhart

  • The purpose of our life is God's glory. However lowly a life is, that is what makes it great.
    Oscar Romero

  • Faith may justify bigotry or fanaticism, as Church history tragically witnesses. It needs a safeguard. If it is not animated as it were by the greatest of the theological virtues (love), faith can become defective.
    Thomas Norris

  • Dry not, dry not, your tears of love eternal! Only to eyes that fail to weep does this world seem so dull and dead. Dry not, dry not, those long, sad tears of love.
    Johann von Goette

  • The post modern paradigm manifests itself as a unity which preserves diversity and diversity which strives after unity.
    David Bosch

  • There is only one assertion that requires no evidence. Children are a sacred trust...Unless we care properly for our children, we shall never build a better world.
    'A Good Childhood’ The Children’s Society

  • These are only hints and guesses, hints followed by guesses; and the rest is prayer.
    'The Dry Salvages' T.S.Eliot

  • According to strict truth, God is incomprehensible, and incapable of being measured.
    Origen

  • Myth is a story about the way things never were, but always are.
    Thomas Mann

  • In the darkness ...The child of your love - and now become as the most hated one - the one You have thrown away as unwanted - unloved ..... The darkness is so dark .... I have no faith.
    Mother Teresa

  • I love the Bible. I owe my faith and my life to the Bible and its liberating message. It is in the Bible that I first met Jesus ... I too am included in God's embrace.
    Gene Robinson

  • It is this great absence that is like a presence, that compels me to address it without hope of a reply ....
    R.S. Thomas

  • Faith is not a proud self-consistent philosophy. It involves maintaining oneself between contradictions that can't be solved by analysis. It is therefore a living response to the grace of God as revealed in fragile lives.
    Mark Oakley

  • Any religion which does not say that God is hidden is not true.
    Blaise Pascal

  • The contemporary Church is losing aspects of its wide and generous memory and therefore condemning itself to become a 'swimming pool Church' - one that has all the noise coming from the shallow end.
    Mark Oakley

  • For all your doctrinal headaches take Paradox.
    Mark Oakley

  • The true vision and the true knowledge of what we seek consists precisely in not seeing, in an awareness that our goal transcends all knowledge and is everywhere cut off from us by the darkness of incomprehensibility.
    St Gregory of Nyssa

  • Death, death be hanged, the Lord has promised me that I shall live. This I believe!
    Martin Luther

  • We feel that even when all possible scientific questions have been answered, the problems of life have not been put to rest.
    Wittgenstein

  • Religion is the flight of the alone to the Alone.
    Plotinus

  • Stupid clergymen appeal quite directly to a Bible passage directly understood ....
    Soren Kirkegaard

  • What is the point of the arts of reading and criticism as long as the ecclesiastical interpretation of the Bible, Protestant as well as Catholic, is cultivated as ever?
    Friedrich Nietzsche

  • A figure like Ecclesiast, rugged and luminous, chants in the dark a text that is the answer, although obscure.
    Wallace Stevens

  • Myth is the poetry of the soul.
    Sara Maitland

  • Our loss of the ability to think mythically, poetically, allegorically, creatively, theologically, and artfully is a greater threat to our religious experience than anything good scientists have to report ...
    Sara Maitland

  • In general, Zen attitude is that words and truth are incompatible, or at least that no words can capture truth.
    Douglas Hofstadter

  • 'God' is a one word poem
    Rowan Williams

  • What is today? Today is eternity.
    Meister Eckhart

  • Apprehend God in all things, for God is in all things.
    Meister Eckhart

  • The most powerful hunger we have, mostly suppressed and misdirected, is the hunger for God.
    Miroslav Volf

  • We frequently judge that things are as we wish them to be, for through personal feeling true perspective is easily lost.
    Thomas a Kempis

  • Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.
    Rabindranath Tagore

  • God is the beyond in our midst.
    Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • 'God is not the answer, God is the question.'
    Herbert McCabe