Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief officially launched in Edinburgh on 22nd November. The launch was marked by Dining with Death, a 2-course lunch with conversation menu to illustrate some of the principles of the alliance.
The launch was attended by Liz Lochhead, Scotland’s poet laureate, who shared her personal experiences and read a poem about death and grief. Delegates also witnessed the premier of 20 takes on death and dying, a short film in which members of the Scottish public talk about death, dying and bereavement.
Over a 2-course lunch at Howies Restaurant, delegates were encouraged to follow a ‘conversation menu’ addressing questions such as ‘What things do you think make for a good death?’ and ‘How would you like to be remembered?’.
The 70 invited guests heard from Kate Lennon, Chair of Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief, about the aims, visions and values of the new alliance, which hopes to make Scotland a place where there is more openness about death, dying and bereavement.
One couple who understand the importance of talking about death is Scott and Llana McNie, who organised their toddler daughter’s funeral before she died.
The parents lost their three-year-old daughter Sienna to brain cancer in April, three months after they were told she couldn’t be cured.
Her parents say the reluctance among medical professionals to talk about Sienna’s death meant they almost didn’t get the chance to bring her home to die.
Scott added: “We found the doctors didn’t want to talk about palliative care options for Sienna. No one asked us where we wanted her to die.
“If we hadn’t been so willing to talk about Sienna’s death she would have spent her final weeks in a hospice rather than with her family and that would not have been right for us as a family.
“We had to accept she was going to die to make sure she had the best possible time while she was with us.
“We also wanted to give her the best funeral we could arrange, complete with a pink coffin in a pink carriage pulled by white horses and 100 pink balloons.
“To organise that took planning and we wanted to do it when we were still in the right frame of mind to do it.
“Death is a fact of life and when it’s a child it is very, very sad, but not talking about it can only make the situation worse.”
Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief currently has over 100 members. Membership is free, and open to all groups, organisations and individuals who wish to support the aims and objectives of the alliance. Sign up here.
Short film: 20 takes on death and dying
Media coverage of the launch