Sweet Rose Cottage

I’m not going to lie, it’s been a fairly frustrating week all round. I caught the man flu, which turned out to be close to actual flu in some ways and still has me feeling terrible. On top of that, add some insomnia, anxiety and general joint pain, I think feel close to the classic ‘death warmed up’. She writes during a sneezing fit on the bus.

Wednesday Addams & Antigone Funn inspired generic tired mortuary worker look.

I was in for two days this week and I’m only in work for one next week. I’m then in for the rest of the year, and I’m starting to do some on call type work. In the last two days that went fast, I did some more nurses training in the big auditorium style training room. I get to feel important and stand on a stage with the presentation projected either side of me. For those that have known me a long time, bet you never thought this nervous wreck would stand there confidently and do that!

A selection of stills from the Just Five Minutes More video by Michelle Lancaster at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust

At the start of the training we play a video made by another NHS trust which demonstrates as well as possible our roles as APTs. It perfectly describes the care we have for our patients and our characters, particularly the ‘cheerful disposition’ we all possess. The link to the video on YouTube is here, Michelle Lancaster who made it and stars in it is someone I have a lot of admiration for and had the pleasure to meet at conference two years in a row, she is a really lovely human being.

There is another line in the video that I’d like to discuss where Michelle mentions the use of the term ‘rose cottage’, describing the phrase as sweet. This hit home upon hearing it yesterday because it sounded so much like the Sweet Rose Cakery where we host our Death Cafe each month, how appropriate and coincidental we found a location named that!

Laura T at the Sweet Rose Cakery

I should explain, the term rose cottage is used by hospital staff to describe either the mortuary, or has further extended to mean a death on the ward either in full form or shortened. The porters use it to ask where the death is, I hear them using our phone to call the ward and ask ‘Do you have a rose cottage?’ or more often it is ‘Do you have a rosie?’. It’s a sweet term indeed, not necessarily one I agree with because I’m fairly certain it’s born of avoiding talking about death, but it’s a tradition that has existed for a long time and I’m sure will continue. I believe other hospitals have other terms they might use, but the Rose Cottage has firmly stuck at ours. Although I believe you can encounter staff who have still yet to hear it and then assume you are asking after a patient called Rose Cottage which would be unfortunate if there was someone with that name!

Have a watch of the video and let me know what you think! Also, as promised I am working on a post about tools starting with the handy device below. Anyone want to take a guess what it’s used for? Mortuary workers past and present need not comment! If you’re Hospital has another term used to mean a death please get in touch also. Have a great weekend everyone.

Mystery tool… what could it be? It’s quite easy (I think!)

MG x

Death Cafe: Don’t Fear the Reaper

The Upminster Death Cafe in November was earlier in the month than usual but that didn’t stop us filling out the venue and having a great time. We had nine people not including the hosts this time around and the discussions were as varied and as interesting as always. I think these events only get more and more fascinating as they develop and evolve. Some new people came along but also many familiar faces, having regulars who come makes me so happy and feel like it’s all worthwhile. A huge thank you is due to Rachel who co-hosts with me, and Caroline and Rose of the Sweet Rose Cakery who without their help it wouldn’t be possible.

I think it’s fair to say this event in particular was, at times, a heavy one from the respect of dealing with some quite serious topics. It really got me pondering some of the more philosophical sides to my career and how best to talk to people about these. I do often get people ask me, in a highly concerned manner, about aspects of my job. I am not saying I am the best person to advise people in any way, but I do know a lot of people. I’m a good person to start with among many, many others who have information that can help people and I’m always happy to answer questions or point people in the right direction for information.

I think it’s hard to say exactly what drew me to this profession, or what makes me want to be so involved via hosting Death Cafes or attending other events. It has to be said that I do love talking about death, and I enjoy talking to others about it. Through that I get a sense of fulfilment through either informing others or learning from people. I don’t think I’ve had a conversation at a Death Cafe for example where I didn’t share my own knowledge, gain knowledge from someone else or there was a combination of the two.

Armed with knowledge, people are more prepared and can make more informed decisions which is much better for all of this involved. Someone without the important knowledge at the right times can become vulnerable. One thing I would say, is that I can’t guarantee all the conversation will be comfortable for you. Personally, I have very little self imposed filter and have to be reminded often that I can be too graphic or blunt for more sensitive types. However, it is by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and hearing this uncomfortable truths that you learn more and become comfortable with them.

I hope that our little Death Cafe runs for as long as it is wanted by the people attending, and as long as people do attend we will host them. If you would like to know more about it please feel free to contact me, or to find an event closer to you there is a search at deathcafe.com where you can see what is happening around the world.

As I write I’m sat curled up under a blanket with a cup of tea, staring out of the window at the damp Norfolk countryside. I promised I would both get a post out to you but also that I would try to switch off for at least a day and recharge my batteries. I’ll be back next week and try to get at least an introductory post to the tools we use.

MG x

Hyde Park Pet Cemetery

The end of October has been cold hasn’t it? Really chillingly cold. I’ve been hiding under a blanket when not out and about, and the change in weather seems to have made work very interesting. I can always tell that the number of deaths has risen, not necessarily by the number of post-mortems but definitely by the number of viewing requests we have. A year ago I was terrified of walking in the waiting room with the relatives, but one year on and I only get a little nervous now. You honestly don’t know what waits for you with viewings, some people don’t want to chat they just want to see their relative and that’s perfectly normal. Other people don’t want you to leave their side for the entire time they are in the room. I’ve become accustomed to both types. Some people want to see them and then walk out again, not even in the room for minutes. Other people stay beyond their allotted appointment time and we sometimes have to tell them their time is up because we have to prepare for the next viewing to take place. It’s a time consuming but very important part of the job.

All this week I have been looking forward to the weekend immensely. Not just because I had Friday off (I’m up to my 4 day week antics again I’m afraid, I’ve got three in a row!) but also because today I had a very exciting tour in my diary. Laura D and I headed to Speaker’s Corner this morning and joined several others for a walk around Hyde Park with two tour guides called Jonathan and Myra.

Looking out of Speaker’s Corner towards Marble Arch and the original Tyburn Gallows site

Interesting choice of the Star Wars font for the Animals In War Memorial…

The tour began on the corner there near Marble Arch, we were told something I never knew before that this was the site of Tyburn where the gallows stood for centuries. First we came out of the park and visited the Animals In War Memorial on Park Lane. From there we walked through the park, the wide flat area of the many festivals and Winter Wonderland (currently being set up) was explained as being the site of the large parade ground. Further into the park it was a lot less open, with a lot more meadow type areas, we were told about the days of Highwaymen and the main route through the park being that of sheep and cattle headed for Smithfield Market.

The meadow areas with their longer grasses, other plants and fallen logs for creatures like stag beetles to hide in

There is certainly something I love about learning the history of the places I visit, especially in London. However the real reason I was at the park today was left at the end of the walk. In a busy corner of Hyde Park near to a main gate there is a little lodge house surrounded by an iron fence. In that iron fence there is a secret gate and our tour guide had a key to open it. Behind that fence, in the small garden of the lodge house is what is know as the Hyde Park Pet Cemetery. Rows and rows of tiny gravestones are huddled together with names like ‘Sheila’, ‘Rex’ and ‘Patch’. The first to be buried here was a little dog called Cherry in 1881, who loved her walks around the park so much and her owners wanted her to be laid to rest there. It seems the lodge house occupant agreed to let them bury her in their garden and then the next burial came in the form of a royal family member’s beloved pet. After that it would appear burial here for the pets of London became very popular during the Victorian period, and I would imagine some form of status symbol amongst the people there.

Rows and rows of tiny headstones

I loved visiting this little place, it seems so very whimsical with the tiny headstones and amusing names for the pets. The heartfelt messages on the headstones are quite a tearjerker for the animal lover, and I can only imagine what it meant to people to be able to bury their pets in the park they loved and have a headstone erected in their memory. I took many photos of this lovely place that I will post below, the Cemetery is not widely open to the public but the Royal Parks do run tours throughout the year which are advertised on their website and I can not recommend more highly. We also wandered around the park a bit after and I will include some other photos I took, enjoy and let me know if you have any questions!

“Patch” A friend of a lifetime and for thirteen years a devoted companion, she suffered and those who loved her best helped her to pass on.

In loving memory of my dear Tom, for eight years the faithful companion and friend

Here I just noticed the word Crocodile, not sure if named crocodile or an actual pet crocodile!

My next pet will without doubt be named Bones!

The Physical Energy Monument

The Serpentine

The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial fountain

The Peter Pan Statue I’ve loved ever since I was a child!

MG x

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑