Death. Death. Death.

Well after another trip up to Hartlepool, this time to take an exam and hand in my first assignments, I feel thoroughly ready for some Dying Matters week action!

Happy, feeling positive face!

A brief update, I’m fully stuck into my course now and have met some great people. I have collected some information in my role as AAPT Student Representative and feeling totally positive about the future. Microbiology for Dummies will be firmly by my side for the next two months too, so if we meet expect to see it somewhere looking more and more dog-eared as time passes. It was great to be in Hartlepool, even if it was cold and rainy. The marina is good if you get to ever go there, but the wind whips through the masts of the moored boats and sounds like bats rushing through a cave, even through ear plugs at 2am.

My new friend, Microbiology for Dummies

We got to visit the ‘monkey’ again on his little pedestal and throw some more money at him for good luck. The money goes towards the local hospice, and we now have it in our heads to visit him every time at least once as tradition. Expect many a monkey photo in future!

Good to see you again monkey 🐒

So I want to discuss the word death. I’ve noticed in the last week that through publicising Death Cafe people always seem to ask if it can be called something different. Something less ‘death’. Frankly, I don’t consider the use of the word death inappropriate or insensitive no matter how many times people say it is. I would just like to say, we at one point wouldn’t say cancer. Cancer was a big thing that people avoided. They would say ‘the C word’, or any other way of avoiding actually saying cancer. Cancer is a horrible, truly terrible thing that has impacted my family and nearly every family I know. However, death will happen to everyone. Being opposed to the word death makes no sense to me and not using it is incredibly unhealthy.

I am well aware that a lot of my non-death related friends think I can be a bit much, and it has certainly become an obsession of mine which I’m willing to admit. Perhaps, it is that I have gone in a different unhealthy direction but people do not do themselves any favours by avoiding it completely. I’ll happily discuss this with anyone, anytime. Plus, I will always say death, dead or died in a practical sense. I’m obviously more sensitive around the bereaved but I’m aware of when words work best. In discussing it in general, it’s death!

MG x

Things I Learnt In Hartlepool (Part 1 of 5)

As I mentioned before, my training requires me to go to Hartlepool five times this year to study for my Diploma. The last three days I have spent in the North-East having a lovely time, learning lots and meeting some great people. Here’s a quick update of where I’m at as my train speeds it’s way back to London.

Getting a group of people together who work in mortuaries is like giving us all a licence to talk. It’s a bizarre thing to witness, discussing mortuary work in fairly hushed voices in a pub like some secret society. However, we got slightly louder when discussing the course and then more trainees joined us after hearing our conversation and realising we were on it too. So then the hushed conversation became bigger but still hushed nonetheless! It’s not as though we ever discuss anything we shouldn’t, but we’re not sure how people would react listening to us discuss was protective equipment we use or how many post-mortems we’ve completed!

In that vein, it is a strange thing but it cannot be denied that every mortuary seems to do something very different to somewhere else. Our dinner on the second night consisted of eight of us from all over the UK (fairly widespread), comparing everything from our equipment, to team sizes, to tools used, to how our department fits in with the hospital or wherever it may be based. Turns out this is a discussion that can go on for some time, with so many differences it seems strange and a bit baffling.

Hartlepool itself is lovely, even if I’ve only really seen the Marina area. Our first evening there it was really sunny and warm which was nice, the other days it’s been a bit more grey but not raining which seemed good. One thing we were advised to do was to give the Monkey a visit. The full back history of the Hartlepool Monkey can be found here, but the basic story is that it’s thought in the Napoleonic Wars some locals mistakenly thought a shipwrecked monkey was a French sailor and he was hanged. A bit along the marina from our hotel is a bronze monkey hanging out by a lock with a bowl to throw money into. One of our course facilitators told us to do this and it ensures that we will pass, so of course we obliged!

The Hartlepool Monkey Just hanging out by a lock

So what did I actually learn while studying? A fairly in depth exploration of Health and Safety in the mortuary and an introduction to Microbiology which nearly made my head explode. My poor cell anatomy knowledge was really put to shame finding out that a lot of cells are a lot more than cytoplasm and nuclei. Therefore I discovered I have a lot of work to put in before I’m back there in May, got three assignments to be getting on with, a portfolio to build and an exam to study for. Feeling slightly overwhelmed is an understatement but I’ll get there. I threw money to the Monkey after all.

MG x

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