Death Affects Everyone

Death affects everyone – you, me and every person on the planet. In January 2022 the medical journal, The Lancet, published the report into its four-year Commission on the Value of Death. The findings from investigating death systems across the world make fascinating reading – all 48 pages!

However, for a quick overview, they also publish their key messages:

Key messages
• Dying in the 21st century is a story of paradox. Although many people are overtreated in hospitals, still more remain undertreated, dying of preventable conditions and without access to basic pain relief.
• Death, dying, and grieving today have become unbalanced. Health care is now the context in which many encounter death and as families and communities have been pushed to the margins, their familiarity and confidence in supporting death, dying, and grieving has diminished. Relationships and networks are being replaced by professionals and protocols.
• Climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and our wish to defeat death all have their origins in the delusion that we in control of, not part of, nature.
• Rebalancing death and dying will depend on changes across death systems—the many inter-related social, cultural, economic, religious, and political factors that determine how death, dying, and bereavement are understood, experienced, and managed.
• The disadvantaged and powerless suffer most from the imbalance in care for those dying and grieving.
• The Lancet Commission on the Value of Death sets out five principles of a realistic utopia, a new vision of how death and dying could be. The five principles are: the social determinants of death, dying, and grieving are tackled; dying is understood to be a relational and spiritual process rather than simply a physiological event; networks of care lead support for people dying, caring, and grieving; conversations and stories about everyday death, dying, and grief become common; and death is recognised as having value.
• The challenge of transforming how people die and grieve today has been recognised and responded to by many around the world. Communities are reclaiming death, dying and grief as social concerns, restrictive policies on opioid availability are being transformed and health-care professionals are working in partnership with people and families, but more is needed.
• To achieve our ambition to rebalance death, dying and grieving, radical changes across all death systems are needed. It is a responsibility for us all, including global bodies and governments, to take up this challenge. The Commission will continue its work in this area.

The aim of Kicking the Bucket 2023 is to give people everywhere, whether online or in person, the opportunity to join events that explore, discuss or showcase different aspects of living, dying and bereavement. We hope this will contribute to one of the five principles of a realistic utopia as described by the Lancet Commission, namely that conversations and stories about everyday death, dying, and grief become common.

This year we intend the festival to be inclusive of diverse communities. We are asking our contributors to hold this awareness in mind as they design their events and contributions to the festival. We hope to see you there! Mark your diaries now, 3-5 November 2023, plus satellite events from & October onwards. More details on the Events page of our website