It’s The End Of The World As We Know It

Or it’s probably not because Christianity has been thinking it’s overdue for ages now and the world still seems to keep carrying on regardless! The London Month of the Dead kicked off for me in true style with a lovely time on Sunday. Started with Richard Barnett’s talk titled The End Of All Things exploring the theme of apocalypse in Christian beliefs and how it has shaped our culture for centuries. I honestly left that one with a whole new perspective on American culture and politics which is not what I expected. It was fabulous to really get my brain whirring round understanding the complexities of the talk.

Richard at the end of his talk with some very ominous thoughts on modern politics(!)

With some time to kill (no pun intended) between the talks, Laura D and I got some lovely food at a local restaurant then met up with a fellow trainer APT from my course who was in London for the talks too. It was great to catch up over a pint and I’m so glad we got to meet up.

Next I attended the lovely Holly Carter-Chappell’s talk called Shot Dead on the use of post-mortem photography. Very thought-provoking and fascinating exploration of mourning culture and how post-mortem photographs came to exist. Not only do I now hunt these images down online, I’m also interested in looking through some old family photographs that I’m not sure are quite old enough but it’s always fun to look at photographs nonetheless!

Shot Dead:Victorian Post-Mortem Photography

Now I have to confess something here, Holly is one of the people who I know on Twitter and then see in real life, don’t immediately realise I know, then I realise I know. I become all kinds of socially awkward specialness on these occasions. So what I want to say in a few words as possible is sorry and if you meet me in real life I will try to be at least weird as I can. Also, if you recognise me please come and say hello! I’m going to be an awkward human being on all manner of levels but I like meeting people so I can only say sorry about that. Bit of a warning to anyone in future who might cross my path!!

The cemetery was beautiful on the walk back to the station.

Tuesday was a good day that went too fast all in all. I spent the morning at King George Hospital ending in a really good Death Cafe there. One particular topic came from discussing the Body Worlds exhibit around the display of human remains that I’m keen to explore further. At a very basic level, why does consent for display become voided for historical cases? This links neatly back to the talks at the weekend and the topic of John Merrick’s skeleton came up. John Merrick, the Elephant Man, was adamant he did not want his body or skeleton to be on display but the medical profession won out and his skeleton was on public display for decades. If you do see it now it will be a replica model but still how comfortable do you feel knowing that he expressly never wanted that to happen?

After Death Cafe I headed back to our other hospital and the afternoon flew by ending with a chat to the nursing staff in their End Of Life Care training. I always like to talk to staff in a classroom setting because I get some really good questions. I also got asked about Death Cafe which was a great time to explain to a group what exactly it is. It’s not for everyone but you never know I might have encouraged some new attendees.

So maybe it’s not the end of the world, just don’t read the news and you’ll be content thinking that. Lots more stuff happening so I’ll be back soon,

MG x

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