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Dying for Life: Cambridge is breaking a taboo to talk death

Dying for Life Festival will be taking place in Cambridge in May
Dying for Life Festival will be taking place in Cambridge in May

First there were the Death Cafes, now plans are in place for a festival covering that most taboo of subjects.

But the Dying for Life Festival, which will take place in Cambridge on Saturday, May 13, is far from a ‘Death Fest’ and more of a celebration of living.

The concept emerged, say the organisers, at the Death Cafes in Cambridge, meetings which aim not only to get people talking about death, but also make the most of their lives.

The cafes have been running for 18 months and the festival will expand their work into areas such as art as well as conversations and ideas about dying and death, and the impact it can have on the way we choose to live our lives.

The free festival, which will be one of many events happening all over the country as part of Dying Matters Awareness Week, starts at 10am at the Friends’ Meeting House on Jesus Lane.

Sessions will include a one-woman show, a workshop about ‘everything you always wanted to know about death but were afraid to ask’, a chance to talk openly about suicide, a session on advance planning for end of life and ideas about dying which will consider what psychologists, philosophers and different religions have to say on the subject.

Visitors will also have the chance to view a display of skeletons and human bones, an art exhibition examining what we can learn about our own mortality and a demonstration of tissue preservation.

Co-organiser Penny Hall told the Cambridge Independent: “We’re really delighted that so many interesting speakers and contributors will be giving their time to take part in this festival, offering us the opportunity to think about and talk about many aspects of death and dying.

“Although the theme of the festival is death and dying, what we’re really talking about is life – the mere act of bringing into our awareness the fact of our own mortality can have an impact on the way we live our lives.

“In some ways there really are no experts here – each and every one of us will come with our own experiences, ideas and feelings on this subject, and there’s such a richness in being together in a space where we are allowed to talk about this often still taboo subject. We warmly welcome anyone who is interested to join us, whether for a short visit or the whole day.”

For full details about the festival, which is sponsored by Woodland Wishes Natural Burials, Miller Sands Solicitors and the Arts Council England, visit dyingforlife.co.uk.

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