12 September 2023

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Dying Matters at Work: Our sensitive dates calendar

Sensitive Days Calendar

For Dying Matters Week this year we focused on supporting conversations around death and dying at work, particularly for our staff and volunteers.

21 April 1988 might be more than 35 years ago but for Gill, it feels like yesterday. That was the day her sister died of breast cancer on St Christopher’s on Alex Ward aged just 42.

Gill, who is now a Healthcare Assistant at the hospice, gets a lump in her throat around the anniversary when she enters the room her sister died in.

She shared her story as part of our Sensitive Dates Calendar for staff – an initiative we set up for Dying Matters Week in May. At St Christopher’s, we often talk about the stigma attached to talking about death and bereavement. But sometimes we forget to do it internally.

Sensitive Days Calendar

So for Dying Matters Week this year we focused on supporting conversations around death and dying at work, particularly for our staff and volunteers. We developed workshops, activities and events to support conversations across the hospice.

This included collaborating on the calendar which allowed staff, like Gill, and volunteers to add stickers to days that held personal significance for them.

It may be an anniversary of a loved one’s death, or a particular day when they miss someone special. Watching the stickers accumulate throughout the week was a profound reminder of the challenges our colleagues might be facing each day.

Given so many individuals have personal dates of significance, it is important to remember
that everyone adjusts to work differently after experiencing the death of someone close and that not everyone may find it easy to open up about the impact of these deaths with those they work with.

Idris Arshad, our HR/People & Inclusion Partner, helped support the initiative.

He said: “This idea is a whole new way of allowing people to express the times that are important to them, the times when they may be feeling different from other times of the year.

“Sharing this allows others to be more supportive, more considerate, and more aware of how someone is doing with their well-being. It also helps people feel like they can talk about things that are sensitive to them and that they can bring their whole selves to work.”

:: This story was from our Autumn/Winter 2023 issue of Connect magazine. To read the full magazine, or to sign up to receive future editions, please click here.

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