Women lead change for a more death-literate Scotland

Top table speakers before the event

I was delighted to take part in a panel discussion during the Edinburgh Festival this week chaired by Alex Mascolo on the publication of her research into how women are working to create a more death-literate Scotland.

30-40 people joined us and the chat was much like a death cafe… wide-ranging, open, quickly deep and interesting.

Hilary Peppiette, lawyer, death doula and end of life planning supporter brought some pragmatic issues to the table, balanced by stories of kindness and empathic care.

Kate Clark was the third Muskateer – a one-time nurse in palliative care, now lead of Pushing Up the Daisies, a charity working to promote home funerals. Kate shared her experience of supporting people at a most vulnerable time.

Most of all, what anyone passing by would have noticed, there was a lot of laughter in the room.

One thing there was no sign of – testosterone. Interesting how there’s rarely any sign of that when we’re dealing with death and dying. There’s just not the oxygen for it.

Here are 3 top tips shared by the panel with the audience:

  1. You do NOT have to rush a body off to a mortuary or have a funeral director take it away straight after a death. You don’t have to use a funeral director at all. You can safely keep it at home in a cool room, windows closed for a few days after death.
  2. You CAN seek help if you or someone you know is at the end of life and want someone to offer tender care and support through the dying period. It can take a surprisingly long time to die and death doulas and soul midwives are trained to help.
  3. A funeral is NOT a legal requirement. In fact there’s no need to have a funeral at all. All you have to do is register the death and notify authorities about what happens to the body. And yes, you can bury a body on your own property.

It’s not new that women are leading the way in death work. See older post: Women Do Death Differently.