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Breaking down the taboo subject of dying at a special event in Cambridge

By Adrian Curtis

Penny Hall and Mehrunisha Suleman, co-organiser of DyingforLife at the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre of Islamic Studies. Picture: Keith Heppell
Penny Hall and Mehrunisha Suleman, co-organiser of DyingforLife at the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre of Islamic Studies. Picture: Keith Heppell

Top speakers set to debate and discuss death and its impact on the way people live their lives

An event aimed at getting more people to break down the taboos of talking about death is to be held in Cambridge at the end of October.

Dying for Life is part of the Cambridge Festival of Ideas and for three hours on the afternoon of October 27, the main topic of conversation will be death and how it impacts on the way people live their lives.

Organised by Cambridge Death Cafe stalwart Penny Hall and Mehrunisha Suleman, a research associate at the Centre of Islamic Studies at the University of Cambridge, the afternoon will offer the chance to explore some of these issues using a mixture of short talks from speakers of different beliefs, and conversations among participants and speakers.

Ms Hall said: “I went to a really fascinating talk by Mehrunisha whose work is on Muslim perspectives, particularly what was important to Muslim people at the end of their life and how that is managed in our health care system. The thing about death is there are no experts. It is not depressing, it is very uplifting. When my father died four years ago, it brought my own mortality into being a very real thing. I wanted to talk about it. When someone you love dies it is a bit of a jolt. You realise this life isn’t forever.”

For Mehrunisha it is all about getting a Muslim perspective on end-of-life care and the views of health care professionals in dealing with that topic for different faiths.

She said: “There is not one single Muslim perspective as with any faith, there are a variety of beliefs and practices, and that is one thing I have been able to appreciate more through the research.

“When you think about Islamic faith, death is very central to understanding the significance of life. They don’t see death as an end, they see it as a transition.”

The event, which runs from 2pm to 5pm at King’s College, King’s Parade, Cambridge, is free but booking is advised at festivalofideas.cam.ac.uk/events/living-well-dying-well.


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