Death and Dying at the Green Gathering

As the long, hot summer continues, and with another heatwave forecast, we’ve just returned from 4 days at the Green Gathering Festival. Perfect camping weather perhaps, but nonetheless concerning in the grand scheme of things. Surely this seemingly endless heat is a sign of the glaring reality of climate change and global warming…

Green Gathering is an eco-festival extraordinaire, with everything from compost loos, recycling stations, BYOM (bring your own mug) to inspiring talks, opportunities to learn how to live more sustainably, crafts harking back to our roots, and entertainment performed on solar/wind powered stages. There is a community vibe, and a sense that we can find our way through the challenges ahead if we are only willing to behave differently.

The threat to our very survival that humanity is now facing is unprecedented. It can feel overwhelming and terrifying, especially when we imagine our children and grandchildren’s futures. I’ve had a real sense of urgency that I must DO something, while at the same time feeling utterly helpless and sometimes hopeless. However, it’s dawned on me progressively that I can only do what I can do – however much I may want to change the world, I can’t. But I can make a difference in my own corner, and to that end I’ve realised that perhaps my most helpful contribution is my ability to open conversations around death and dying – is there anything more unifying than the fact that we will all physically die?

The talk I gave in my local village hall back in February, an Introduction to the Lost Art of Simple Dying, is a potential tool to take out to get people talking about dying whilst also offering them simple ideas on how to support people they love through their dying days. I contacted Green Gathering to see if they wanted the talk, and they said they’d like to put me in the Campaigns Tent. So just before 10am on Sunday morning, bright and early for festival time, I rocked up at the tent really expecting that nobody might come! All it said in the programme was “Death and dying.” By 10am 30 people had arrived… I talked for about 35 minutes, and then the floor was open for questions and sharing. The enthusiasm for the subject was amazing, and the stories and experiences people related were illuminating.

It’s hard to describe the feeling I get now I know without question what my job is – these conversations are so needed, and the intimacy that occurs when people get together and share their experiences is both humbling and expanding. We all learn from each other. I still find it takes courage to speak out, though after nearly nine years of working holistically around death and dying, everything I’ve learnt from the amazing people I’ve either taught or supported in turn supports me. I truly believe that we all have within us everything we need, and what I do is intended to help people find it within themselves and to trust that inner knowing when they need it.

I’m so grateful to all the people who got up early and came to listen and share on Sunday morning. I encourage them, as I do you, to go forth and start talking ♥

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