Gary Rycroft column

Gary Rycroft.

Gary Rycroft.

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Dying is something we spend a lifetime avoiding. Both as an event itself and as a topic of conversation. Death has become a medical, rather than a social issue.

My Victorian forebears working in the Mills in Lancaster were used to death and as a consequence I imagine they coped with it better.

Dying Matters is a national coalition of professionals and individuals who want us all to talk about the end of life in a more positive way.

The annual Dying Matters Awareness Week is next week.

The theme is You Only Die Once, a nod to James Bond and intended as a trigger to the thought we only have one chance to get it right.

In fact the You Only Die Once strap line has provoked debate from those whose religious belief is otherwise, but you get the idea.

Get it right and it will be beneficial both for the person dying and those left behind.

But we only get one chance to get it right, so we have to talk, plan and make our wishes known before it’s too late.

The five objectives of Dying Matters Awareness Week this year are get us all to (1) Write a Will (2) Plan for future care and support (3) Write down funeral arrangements (4) Register as an organ donor and (5) Tell your lived ones your wishes.

Here in Lancaster a dedicated team of volunteers has put together an incredible array of events, including an exhibition by world famous photographer Rankin at The Storey Gallery and a free event (also at the Storey) on Thursday, May 15 where speakers will help those attending tackle the list of objectives above.

There are still spaces for that event so please ring 01524 512597 to book a place.

Another local event I would like to go to is a talk organised by Transition Lancaster at The Gregson on the evening of Monday, May 12, which will look at alternative funerals, such as green burials.

There is a play from the Edinburgh Festival about assisted suicide called Killing Roger on at The Dukes on Thursday, May 15 and on Saturday, May 17 there will be tours of the Crematorium (again booking essential).