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How to talk about end of life

Death is a normal part of life and yet having conversations about death and dying can be very difficult.

It enables people to make choices about how they would like to die and helps loved ones to cope better both emotionally and practically.

Here are some tips below and resources to help get the conversation going. 

Let's find the words together...

How can I start a conversation?
  • Choosing the right time and place, sometimes a conversation can open up after discussing a TV programme or film or a piece of music. Look for a prompt from the other person. They may ask a question “What do you think happens after you die?”
  • Listen without judgement, allow the person to express their thoughts and wishes, don’t be afraid to cry and show your grief. Be honest and open.
  • Both parties can talk about their wishes, plans, fears and hopes for their death and after
  • You could start a conversation, consider starting with a question. For example, "Do you think we should talk about...?" Or "I know talking about these things is never easy..."
  • If you are worried about getting it wrong you could try the conversation out with a nurse or trusted friend
  • Talking about important subjects doesn’t have to be in one go.
  • Having lots of smaller conversations enable people to be open to discuss their hopes and fears bringing people together.

Suffolk Libraries have put together a list of titles about compassion and bereavement - including books for children, teens, young adults and adults.

LivingGrief is the St Elizabeth Hospice bereavement service and co-ordinates support across East Suffolk.

Our LivingGrief bereavement and emotional wellbeing enquiry line, 0300 303 5196, is available to anyone affected by grief.

Our LivingGrief Hub has up-to-date information on local group support, mental health resources, as well as signposting to help if you have suffered a bereavement from:

  • Loss of a baby
  • Unexpected death of a child
  • Unexpected death of an adult
  • Suicide
  • Cancer
  • Long term or life-limiting illness
  • COVID-19

Join a Compassionate Conversation

Being able to talk with and comfort people who are experiencing end of life, loss or bereavement can be a daunting prospect - but it needn't be that way.

Compassionate Conversations is an awareness training session delivered by St Elizabeth Hospice.

It is aimed at helping people (aged 18+) build the skills and confidence to enable open, honest and sensitive conversations around end of life, loss and bereavement, whilst identifying ways to help and support others.

What does the session cover?

  • Breaking down taboos and myths about death and dying
  • Thinking about how we can have compassionate conversations
  • How taking the time to lend a helping hand or a friendly ear can make a difference
  • Identifying support services available for those experiencing end of life, loss and bereavement

Bereavement & Loss Café in Ipswich

The Bereavement Café meets on the first Friday of each month, from, 10:30-12:00 At On The Huh Café, 3A St Peter's St, Ipswich, IP1 1XF.

The café is open to anyone coping with bereavement and loss, regardless of religion or spiritual level.

The main aim of the café is to provide a safe space to come just as you are and have opportunity to meet and share emotions and experience with others.

For more information, call 07710 756544 should any attendees feel that they would prefer to be met outside the main door of the café, to make the coming in feel easier.

Fram Library Launch

See where you can find a Compassionate Conversation training session, a Compassionate Workplace, bereavement bookshelves in libraries and people who we work in partnership with:

Resources to help talk about end of life & grief

Suffolk Libraries have recommended books via their website on bereavement and compassion. View them here.

Marie Curie have some useful videos with tips on how to support others.

Watch them below or on YouTube:

How can I help someone with grief?

How does grief feel?

Download and view the following leaflets from Dying Matters.

These leaflets help begin conversations about death, dying and bereavement, and are designed to help everyone, whatever their situation.

Dying Matters have also produced a podcast series called ‘Let’s Talk About It’ that shares peoples experiences of death, dying and bereavement in an open an honest way. Find out more on ‘Lets Talk About It’.

Useful links to support you and your community

Click on the links below to go to third party sites which are recommended by St Elizabeth Hospice:

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