Reflections

Threshold One; from pandemic to refreshed world, by Rick Nelms

Threshold One; from pandemic to refreshed world, by Rick Nelms

Three Reflections On Beauty

Rick Nelms, who has been part of the Good Death poetry workshops at Arthur Rank Hospice Charity, reflects on beauty and its importance for living and dying well.

Last words and Avengers: Endgame

What links Marvel’s blockbuster Avengers: Endgame and Shakespeare’s Richard II? Jessica Lim reflects on destiny, “last words” and the pervasiveness of death talk in popular culture. We have a cultural obsession with last words. It is reasonably commonplace to meet a person who can recall Oscar Wilde’s (ostensible) last words: “Either that wallpaper goes, or […]

Reflections

Literary Epitaphs
and the question of monuments

What are the words that we’ll be remembered by? Jessica Lim reflects on the desire to set our legacies in stone. Under the wide and starry skyDig the grave and let me lie:Glad did I live and gladly die,And I laid me down with a will. This be the verse you grave for me:‘Here he […]

Reflections

Poetic creativity and the fear of death

Jessica Lim considers the urgency of Keats’ poetry in the face of death. When I have fears that I may cease to be Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain, Before high-pilèd books, in charactery, Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain; When I behold, upon the night’s starred face, Huge cloudy symbols […]

Reflections

Is the ‘good life’ a life of purpose?

The loss of purpose, which can afflict those who are facing death or who have experienced a loss, is the subject of Milton’s haunting ode. Words by Jessica Lim. If a ‘good’ or ‘purposive’ death is linked to a ‘good life’, then what does it mean to lead that ‘good life’? Specifically, how can one […]

Reflections

Anger and futility:
Wilfred Owen and ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’

Death, war, and writing about death in war (4) Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,And towards our distant rest began to trudge.Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;nk with fatigue; […]

Reflections

An Anthropologist Reflects:
The idea of death and how we live with it

A Dead-end? In the first of three guest contributions, social anthropologist Eveliina Kuitunen writes on the problem of “otherness”. Can we really know anything about any death but our own? In 1972, Johannes Fabian criticised a parochialising of mortality and claimed anthropologists “ceased to answer for humanity” by only writing of “how others die” and […]

Reflections

An Anthropologist Reflects:
Death do us part

In the second in a series of guest contributions, social anthropologist Eveliina Kuitunen explores the theory of death denial Amidst anthropological and sociological arguments about whether denial is an accurate portrait of attitudes towards death in the West or not, the question of what it is exactly that is being denied remains largely undiscussed. Proponents […]

Reflections

Do not go gentle into that good night

Dylan Thomas’s ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’ has become one of the most widely-known and used funeral poems of modern times. Here, Jessica Lim reflects on the language of struggle, anger and fighting and how the metaphors we choose shape our experience of grief. Dylan Thomas, 1951 Do not go gentle into […]

Reflections

Poetry and the Good Death

A reflection by Dr Phil Isherwood. Phil has been volunteering since 2010 as the ‘hospice poet’ – writing poems inspired by conversations with patients and by their creative work in the Creative Therapy Department at Bolton Hospice. Find him on twitter @Hospice_Poet I have been a volunteer poet in the hospice for the last nine […]

Reflections