Why we need to talk more about death - Scotsman comment

It is one of the great taboos and yet, as Benjamin Franklin observed, it is also the only certainty in life other than taxes. Of course death comes to us all, but sadly we are having to face up to it more than is usual during these hard times.

Royal London has partnered with renowned British portrait and fashion photographer Rankin to encourage the conversation around death with a free digital exhibition, Lost for
Words
Royal London has partnered with renowned British portrait and fashion photographer Rankin to encourage the conversation around death with a free digital exhibition, Lost for Words

Last week the UK passed the grim milestone of 50,000 deaths related to coronavirus. Yesterday 1,159 new cases were reported in Scotland, and the number of patients in hospital and in intensive care continues to rise. The longer this pandemic progresses, and the longer the wait for a vaccine, the more likely it becomes that we will lose a loved one to this dreadful disease – if we have not already done so.

A study today finds that a quarter of a million people in the UK have experienced a sudden bereavement due to Covid-19, with thousands at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder. The bereavement charity Sudden said cautious estimates put the number of unexpected deaths each year at around 50,000, but that number is very likely to have doubled by the end of 2020.

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The charity warns that without appropriate care and support more than 12,500 people bereaved as a result of coronavirus could go on to develop post-traumatic stress disorder .

We need to talk about death more because of the times we are living in. Recognising this, the photographer Rankin has themed his new free digital exhibition, Lost For Words, on the subject.

The exhibition features a series of people superimposed next to images of loved ones they have lost, bringing together the departed and those left behind.

The Paisley-born artist, who was inspired to create the images by the deaths of his parents 15 years ago, said the project was needed now more than ever as “we are going through a very national grief”.

He said: “Having been there with my dad, when my mum got ill, he just didn’t want to talk about it. No one wants to talk about it. But once you get past that hurdle of bringing the conversation up, it is easy.”

Perhaps many of us will never reach the stage of finding it “easy” to talk about death. But however difficult it may be, the more we talk about it the more we will equip ourselves to cope with the trauma that comes with the unexpected loss of a loved one .

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