Southampton event to dismantle taboos around death

Southampton event to dismantle taboos around death
Southampton event to dismantle taboos around death

That is the view of former palliative care nurse Deb Wilkes.

The 64-year-old from Southampton is on a mission to change people’s perceptions around death and the choices available to people.

After attending a ‘Death Fayre’ in Dorset in 2009, she was inspired to start her own similar events, with one taking place on Saturday.

She said: “The event blew my mind and I didn’t know we had things like this in the UK.

“I went along and saw lots of things that I could then talk to my patients about. One of them was a man painting a cardboard coffin.

“This is something I told my own mum about, which prompted her to ask if I could paint hers in a beach theme when she passes.

“She also told me she wanted to be cremated.

“She died suddenly six months later, and it was helpful she knew what she wanted.

“Doing all these things were really therapeutic, especially for my dad.

“That experience is what started it all.”

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After Deb’s own perspective on death changed, she was keen to show people that they have nothing to fear if they talk about death.

She said: “When I worked in a hospice, I asked the families of patients if they knew what their loved ones wanted after they died, and they would say no.

“Everybody has heightened emotions around death. “If people talk about it, that will help.”

The event on Saturday takes place at St Denys Church, with doors open from 11am.

Funeral directors, nurses, artists, coffin weavers, celebrants, local service providers and musicians will all be in the building, providing time to chat, answer questions and entertain in a creative space.

Deb added: “Events like this are for people going through these experiences, and those who will be left behind.

“People have choices. The aim of the day is to get people to talk about things surrounding death and for us to continue to be informative and to have fun at the event.

“We want people to start having these conversations with their loved ones.

“Once you get over that hurdle of death being a taboo, people become keener to talk about it.

“Everyone has an experience with death. “Nothing awful is going to happen if you talk about it.”

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