Stella Duffy, 9 January 2016

Stella Duffy - I called this session because it's something I'm thinking about a lot right

now, and calling it was quite edgy for me, so I'm very grateful to the MANY people who

came to the session, for some of whom it was also edgy, for some of whom it was not

at all.

Some of the people who wrote their names down were (apologies for bad

transcription) :

Jon Holmes, Lucy Williamson, Lou Ratt, Gerard Bell, Rochi Rampal, Pia de Laboide,

George Ramsey, Antonia Brook, Tabitha Grove, Orit Azaz, Lucy Nicholls, Lauren

Jansen-Parkes, Malaika Cunningham, Lucinka Eisler, Sidie Newman, Nik Poldi, Ali

Bellbin, Dawinder Bansal, Sarah-Louise Young, Sarah Booth, Claire Bennett, Amie

Taylor, Uzma Kazi, Ellan Parry, Kath Burlinson

the discussion was wide-ranging and full. here are some of the thoughts that came up,

written as fast & fully as I (Stella) could manage :

death conversation = human condition, human-ness & reality are contained in death

British culture sees death as a taboo

Death Cafe - an open source form for death discussion, tea & cake & death

death and grief are intrinsically linked (and that's good)

the problems/pain of outliving one's friends

the death (daily) of ideas/dreams/projects/hopes

kids do death p;lay and play with death all the time

we could say to children : “yes, it (pet) has died, and how is that?”

different cultures have v different attitudes/responses/to and rituals for death (Maori,

Greek, Indian, Ghanaian cited)

funerals are really interesting (Muslim, 3 days of mourning/grieving)

in deaths and marriages, families come together

death shows up in humour and different realities

we love death because we ALL have stories about death

many people's experience of funerals is quite a lot of bad behaviour

to talk about death is opening a passage to vulnerability/shame

our aging & how it is fearful, death IS coming

how can we talk about death so that it is accessible, so that it is OURS?

the question of who a funeral is for, the dead person or the living?, doing “what the

dead person would want”, or doing what we want for and of them

relating it to theatre - funeral directors as producers

producing funerals in theatre (Dank Parish will make your - live - funeral)

producing your own funeral

We Need To Talk About The Funeral

Green Fuse

Final Fling

MAKE A WILL (approx 25% of the large group have wills, 75% don't - nb, if you are

married your spouse is not going to be fine if you don't have a will)

how positive it is to say “I might die today”

saying to someone else “you might die today” (which we then did)

religion was invented (by us) to help us cope with death

the difficulty of belief/faith in a culture (theatre/arts) that disparages faith

Fevered Sleep making show about grief/mourning

the time limits on grief

when you grieve you are rejoicing what has gone, because we can't grieve what we

don't care about/what doesn't matter

grief is also contact with the dead person

the living are impatient, wanting ‘business as usual’ and grieving people can get left


hierarchies of grief, re how much we are ‘meant’ to grieve

rehearsal for grief, even with a suicide, when we KNOW they choose to die., we still

grieve because it's about our lives/feelings, as much (or more) than about the dead

grieving across borders - ie, using grief/mourning patterns from non-Brit culture in

Britain, and how that can be difficult, and also useful

“are you grieving enough?”

grief judgement - too much/not enough

is there some value in ‘performing’ emotion, instead of keeping it in?

museum of hearses in Barcelona crematorium

sin eaters/professional mourners

My Name is Sue - “we're all going to die”

if we can be closer to death, we can be closer to life

we're mourning different people at a funeral - we all have different experiences of the

dead, and yet we come together anyway

suicide = “the option of death”

plenty of other parts of the world where there isn't the luxury of a chat about death,

where it is a daily unremitting reality, where death is much more present (as it has

been here in other times)

Terry Pratchett on death

how (in west) we now expect to get better, the difficulties/dirtiness of death being

taken away from our daily life makes it (death) harder to understand

most in the group had seen a dead body (only a few had not)

things WILL NOT carry on as they are now, death and disease and plague and

terrorism and sickness and accidents all will come

The End IS Nigh

meaning-making : making theatre to make meaning out of death

every live performance is a little death, it will not come again

“one day you'll die, on all the other days you won't”

the witnessing of death (esp on a grand/wartime/oppression scale) affects generations

to come

conversation of when/what age do we want to die? what do we think ‘enough’ life is?

how old, how many faculties can we lose before it's too many and we're ‘ready’ to die?

the heroics around maintaining life, that sick people should ‘fight’ their illness, that

medics should fight to save them/us

where does the term “late” come from?

absurd euphemisms for death and not knowing which words to use, in order to be kind

to the bereaved

the story of a woman told she had a few months to live, she surrendered herself

completely to death and then LIVED

Tibetan Book of the dead recommended twice

Irvin Yalom, Staring at tthe Sun also recommended

Quaker faith & practice recommended

“it was useful that you called a death session, so that people knew it was ok to talk

about it”

“My world has exploded a little bit” - Bella Heesom


death, Theatre, grief, funerals, mourning, life, THEATRE, living, theatre

Comments: 4

Elspeth Murray, 12 January 2016

Stella, thanks for calling this session. I've made a sister report with a few images that I made during the conversation.

Images from Let's Talk About Death.

Elspeth Murray, 12 January 2016

Stella, thanks for calling this session. I've made a sister report with a few images that I made during the conversation.

Images from Let's Talk About Death.

Stella Duffy, 12 January 2016

oh Elspeth, I love these. thank you.

Elspeth Murray, 12 January 2016

Stella I've worked out how to add more images - and I hope you'll like this too! It's using the Adobe Voice app … E xoxo