A Birmingham hospice is encouraging local people to talk more openly about death, dying and bereavement by opening its doors to the public this month. 

Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice will be hosting the intriguing and informative open day on Friday 17 May, to inspire and provoke conversations around the much-avoided subject.

Coinciding with national campaign ‘Dying Matters Awareness Week’, the Selly Park-based charity will give people the opportunity to tour its facilities and garden, chat to staff and volunteers about what really happens at a hospice, and explore therapeutic arts with its artist in residence. 

Centred around the theme ‘curiosity’, there will also be Q&A sessions with end of life doulas, hospice nurses, and someone who has recently experienced hospice care – giving people the chance to ask questions that they’ve previously been too scared to raise.

Sharon Hudson, who is community development and partnerships lead at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, believes talking about death can “only be a good thing” as it allows people to share any worries, fears or wishes that they might have.

She said: “For many of us, talking about death can feel like a really difficult conversation to have and yet, all of us will experience it at some point in our lives. A lot of people are frightened of saying the wrong thing, worried about upsetting someone, or simply don’t know how to bring the topic up – and for those that are dying, sometimes denial can play a part in it too. By having the confidence to open up these conversations as part of everyday life, we can enable many more people and their loved ones to have the best possible quality of life as they deal with illness and approach dying.

“We hope that by welcoming people to Birmingham St Mary’s, we can help positively change their outlook on hospices, death and dying. We look forward to getting people down here and altering any preconceptions they may have.”

As well as the open day, the Hospice will also be hosting a live Twitter Q&A chat with former palliative care doctor and author of ‘With The End in Mind’, Kathyrn Mannix. Kathyrn’s book shares extraordinary stories of people who are approaching the end of life and their experiences often show that dying is something we should plan for and not avoid discussing.

In the live Q&A - which takes place on Thursday 16 May from noon to 1pm - Kathyrn will join medics and nurses from the Hospice to answer any questions that users might have about death and dying.

Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice provides vital care and support to local people who are living with life-limiting illness. This year, it’s celebrating 40 years of care across Birmingham and Sandwell. When the Hospice first opened in 1979, it could care for 25 people on any given day. Four decades later and the Hospice is supporting over 400 people every day, providing care in people’s homes, in the community, at its Day Hospice facility and at the Hospice’s Inpatient Unit.

The open day will take place between 1.30pm and 5pm at 176 Raddlebarn Road, Selly Park, B29 7DA. It’s free of charge to attend but it’s advised to book tickets here.