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Facing up to death at a very unusual festival
A two-week festival of death in Oxford aims to break the taboo of talking about dying.
The Kicking the Bucket festival, which runs from Monday to Friday, November 2, will feature dance, music and art sessions as well as talks and debates on the subject of death, dying and loss.
Festival organiser, actress and playwright Liz Rothschild, from Watchfield, near Faringdon, said: “The festival is about giving inspiration, advice, support and ideas around a huge range of topics connected to death and dying and living.
“This is its first year and it is the first festival of this kind in Oxford.”
Ms Rothschild, who manages Westmill Woodland Burial Ground in Watchfield, said she was inspired to organise the festival to help others talk about the subject of death.
She added: “I have seen a lot of distress from our inability to talk about death or dying.
“If we can begin to talk about it then we can help ourselves and improve our lives.”
She has been busy promoting the programme: “I think it is quite something to see a bunch of people walking down the road with a coffin and I got rid of a bucket-full of programmes.
“We just really wanted to draw attention to the festival – things are hotting up and tickets are selling.”
Ms Rothschild said the festival aimed to reach communities often excluded from conversations and rituals about death, such as the homeless or those with mental heath issues.
She added: “We are running several events in both primary and secondary schools, and working with students with learning disabilities.”
Among events taking place are: l A presentation on Tuesday entitled Supporting the Bereaved, at Wesley Memorial Church in New Inn Hall Street, Oxford, from 7.30pm to 9pm.
l On Wednesday, from 6.45pm to 8.45pm, there will be a talk at Cheney School in Cheney Lane, Headington, entitled What Happens When You Die? There will be a panel of speakers including Ann Rowland, director of bereavement services at the Child Bereavement Charity.
Proceeds from some of the festival events will go to Headington hospice Sobell House, and Cruse, the national charity providing bereavement support.
For more information and a full programme, visit the website kickingthebucket.co.uk.