Enriching perspectives on dying well

Workshop run by ‘A Good Death’ project (credit: Tom Almeroth-Williams)

The A Good Death? project uses historical death literature to enrich perspectives on death and dying today. Creative resources and activities empower participants and encourage personal and professional development.

Laura Davies’ research has focused on the relationship between developments in English prose and attitudes towards death and dying in 18th-century life-writing. Contributing to an emerging interdisciplinary field of death studies, she has developed a ‘poetics of death’ – a means of identifying the ways in which the form and structure of texts generate rather than simply represent meaning – in order to articulate how we can engage with death as something that cannot be known empirically and as a phenomenon that is both individual and universal.

The project has engaged end-of-life care professionals, volunteers, patients, creative practitioners and local communities in a series of varied and expanding activities (including theatre, focus groups, workshops, conferences and public events) to co-create literary and artistic materials and tools for use in their professional practice.

The project has influenced behaviour and attitudes among two key beneficiary groups as well as wider publics: death-adjacent medical and care practitioners and volunteers, and creative artists. Participants gained self-reflection and more nuanced perceptions around language and expression in relation to death and dying.

“[The conference] has certainly challenged my way of thinking and is helping me to consider the value assumptions we bring to end of life care as clinicians.”

– Attendee at A Good Death: Interdisciplinary perspectives on Dying Well conference