To mark the Dying Matters Coalition's first Awareness Week (March 15-21, 2010), theChurch of England is encouraging churchgoers to talk openly about dying and death, in a new podcast suitable for sermon and house group use.
During the four-minute podcast, available here, Dying Matters' director Hilary Fisher says: "I think it's absolutely fantastic that the Church of England has joined the coalition because they have such an important role in the community."
Speaking on the subject of breaking down the wall of silence that exists around death, dying and bereavement issues, Fisher says, "The only way we're going to get people talking about dying is for you to talk to your neighbors, to talk to your friends, to talk to your loved ones, to talk to the people that you see in church.
"We want the Church of England to be talking about it in sermons, we want them to be engaging with other faiths when they meet in multi-faith situations, and we want them to be encouraging people to say, 'If you really don't yet know what you want, or you haven't yet talked to loved ones, now is the time to do it.'"
Dying Matters, Fisher says, has produced materials to help those conversations be a success; she also mentions that the website contains a guide to regional events promoting the coalition's aims.
Brendan McCarthy, the church's national medical ethics and health and social care policy officer, said: "Stimulating an ongoing national 'conversation' on the subjects of dying, death and bereavement is vital, so that an expectation of living and dying well can become the norm, and the fear of death and terminal illness can be alleviated."
The Church of England joined Dying Matters in January 2010. The coalition contains almost 7,000 organizations and individuals. It was set up in 2009 by the National Council for Palliative Care to promote a deeper familiarity of issues associated with dying, death and bereavement.
Members of Dying Matters include organizations from across the NHS, voluntary and independent health and care sectors (including hospices, care homes, charities supporting old people, children and bereavement); social care and housing sectors; faith and community organizations; schools and colleges; academic bodies; trade unions; the legal profession; and the funeral sector.
Further information is available here.