Our pastoral and spiritual care service held their annual conference on Thursday 4 April 2019 at Fieldhead Hospital. This year’s event was themed on ‘talking about dying’ and exploring the spiritual dimensions to the end of life and a greater understanding of the spiritual aspects of dying, death and bereavement.
The full day conference was attended by 60 people and was hosted by the pastoral and spiritual care team in collaboration with Spirit in Mind and The Janki Foundation, a UK charity that promotes spirituality in healthcare.
The day started with a welcome address from Trust chief executive, Rob Webster who emphasised the importance of our Trust values and the delivery of spiritual and mindfulness activities and events to reinforce these. This was accompanied by a music interlude consisting of a violin played by one of our service users and a flute played by one of the Janki Foundation facilitators.
“Beautiful music; thank you. A space to have truly heartfelt conversations.”
The event focused on using talks, presentations, videos and sessions to cover various aspects about death, dying and bereavement, a topic that many people shy away from, don’t fully understand or treat as a taboo subject. The attendees also participated in experiential sessions with ‘Meditation in the Chapel’ and ‘Walking the Labyrinth in the Caring Gardens’ at Fieldhead.
“Structure of the day was excellent, paced just right. Thank you – this has been a precious day, sharing with people on a deep level about something so important. It has been beautifully though out with so much detail and sensitivity. Thank you very much!”
Following the lunch break, the afternoon sessions involved workshops which aimed to explore a compassionate presence with dying people. The workshops focused two fundamental questions:
What qualities of presence would you like in someone who is with you when you are dying?
What would you like them to say or do that would be comforting?
The questions formed a discussion fuelled by conversations within the group to talk and discuss views, thoughts and experiences.
“Very thought-provoking, good conversations and real life experience. Lots of things to think about in the great discussions. It’s OK to talk about dying.”
The conference was well received by attendees who engaged, discussed and were eager to learn more and deepen their understanding about the spiritual context of dying and bereavement. The day was interwoven with poetry, reflections and music interludes to create a relaxed environment to allow attendees to engage with workshops and activities.
“Thank you. I came today to have the opportunity to broaden my knowledge and enable myself to have time for reflection. I have learnt a lot today and gained a much wider understanding of dying, from both my own and others perspectives. A very enlightening session, it was lovely to spend time in this supportive and nurturing environment. I also feel strongly that I’ve had some positive ‘downtime’ for thinking.”
The pastoral care team will be hosting a follow up workshops on the topic of ‘death and dying’. They will be held on Thursday 12 September, 9.30am – 12.30pm and Tuesday 5 November, 1.30 – 4pm, in the Large Conference Room at Fieldhead Hospital.
For further information or to register, contact: Debby Walker on 01924 316282 or firstname.lastname@example.org.