Why Poppy's offers talks and training on death care and funerals

Poppy's CEO Clare Montagu giving a talk at Poppy's mortuary open day

Four minute read

Clare Montagu, Poppy’s CEO, explains why we offer free talks, training and education sessions to people working in health care or end-of-life care, community groups and carers, and how these conversations can have a lasting impact.

Find out more and book a session for your group

Most people talk about funerals, death and dying in hushed voices or behind closed doors — if they talk about them all. But at Poppy’s, we take every opportunity to bring these conversations out into the open.

Through our free talks and education sessions, we empower those who most need to know by giving them the facts. We enable their professional development. We give them space to reflect on their own experiences. We allow them to ask questions which they may never have had the chance to ask before.

Who does Poppy’s talk to?

The variety is amazing. One week, we could be providing training and continuous professional development to a team of care home workers or hospice staff. The next, explaining our approach to natural death care to a group of celebrants or introducing green funeral choices at a community lunch club.

You’ll also find us delivering lectures to medical students at our local hospital; welcoming doulas into our mortuary to learn first-hand how we care for someone who has died; hosting a death café in a public library; and chatting with people during a Buddhist temple open day.

Find out about upcoming talks, events and training here.

What do we talk about?

Anything and everything. We often start with an introductory, myth-busting talk which opens the doors on death care. We explain what really happens when someone dies up until their funeral — and what choices are available at every stage. But we can also tailor what we do to what your group needs.

Facing a room full of people, or faces on a screen, to talk about a taboo subject can be daunting. It sometimes takes a while for people to relax — especially those taking time away from busy, frontline work — and to realise how the information we’re sharing makes it easier for them to help the people they care for every day.

But as we build trust, I’ve found that people quickly open up and really want to talk. They share personal experiences or ask insightful questions. And they leave the room having heard from each other, as well as from the Poppy’s team.

What difference does it make?

We know that the impact of these sessions can last a long time.

For example, retired hospice nurse Gilly still remembers her training visit to Poppy’s many years on. It has helped shape her practice, ideas and choices since then. But there will be many more whose stories we never hear.

I find there is something particularly special about bringing people into our light-filled, airy mortuary for the first time. It confounds expectations and allays worries to see what great death care looks like in practice. It shows there is nothing to hide or to fear much more powerfully than any words we use. Read more about why we offer public open days at Poppy’s.

I firmly believe that the kind of education and professional development that we offer isn’t just a nice-to-have. It’s more than a cosy conversation before people get back to their ‘real work’.

It’s vital in a context where most people, including health professionals, don’t know what good death care looks like or how to ensure people are cared for with dignity and respect after their death. In a sector where there is not enough transparency, it’s also all too easy for people to be persuaded into buying products they don’t want or need.

Azmina, who works as a GP, explains the importance really clearly, “I now feel far better prepared to warn bereaved and grieving family members about potential pitfalls,” she says. “I can describe clearly to families what great care looks like and feels like. I also feel more confident in informing families about their rights and what to expect.”

"I feel confident in informing families about their rights."

Building relationships

Offering talks and training also helps us understand our community better, to make connections, build relationships and support each other. We love having our HQ in Lambeth cemetery and being part of the Tooting community, and we are excited about growing our presence across south London.

Sharing accurate, practical information is important. We do that all the time through our blogs, resources and social media, as well as through face-to-face contact. But our talks and education sessions are about more than just information. They are about getting to know you and you getting to know us.

Kate, who attended our mortuary open day, echoes this feeling beautifully: “It was wonderful to meet the Poppy's team on their home ground at last, to hear how Poppy's operates and to be given the freedom to ask questions, nothing off limits.

"I felt I learned such a lot, was reminded of such a lot and left feeling excited about and grateful for the amount of kindness the staff embody in their work […] I wish the event had gone on longer: I had so many questions and it was lovely talking to staff and other attendees alike.”

Interested in finding out more? We’d love to hear from you.

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