This project results from a partnership between the Universities of Bradford and Wolverhampton and Child Bereavement UK. Funded by AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council), it aimed to co-produce resources with young people – for young people – to prompt conversations about death, dying and bereavement. The origins of the project were using archaeological prompts to start those conversations in a supported way.
Death, dying and bereavement affect us all; death is a unifying element of life, but we often lack the language and confidence to talk about it. Drawing on the work of Allan Kellehear (2012)1, the Dying to Talk project has set about to build a model of a compassionate community that can be adopted by schools and youth groups. This can help build resilience in the next generation, buttressing their mental health for the future and helping to break down the taboo around the subject of death.
Research shows that not being able to talk about the death of our loved ones can lead to mental health issues and other negative outcomes. This is especially true of young people, and is implicated in future depression, smoking, drug dependency, risk-taking behaviour, poor educational attainment, unemployment, and criminal activity.1. Kellehear, A. (2012) Compassionate Cities: Public Health and End-of-Life Care, London: Routledge
These resources have been co-designed by young people aged 14-19 years to prompt conversations about death, dying and bereavement amongst young people aged 10 years+.
They are also aimed at teachers, school counsellors, youth leaders – and in fact any professionals working with young people, to help start these conversations.
The resources and activities have been designed by young people to support the development of a compassionate community within a school or organisation.
You can use these activities in a specifically designated safe space for young people to enable and encourage them to express their grief, talk about death and dying, or to share compassion with others. They can be used as part of a lesson, such as History or English, to encourage and enable conversations about this sensitive subject within a structured environment. On this website there are various resources you can find in both the showcase and the resources page. Using medias such as music, writing and art, you can find plenty of resources that can help prompt conversation.
The toolkit for the compassionate community suggests some ideas about how to embody the principles of compassion within the school community, such as use of language, encouraging conversations in relevant subject areas and establishing a safe space for reflection and grief.