Helping Society to Live, Die and Grieve – The Centre for the Art of Dying Well  

The mission of the Centre for the Art of Dying Well is to help people of all faiths and none both to live and die well and be supported in grief. 

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The Art of Dying Centre pursues its mission in a variety of ways: training the frontline to be better prepared to deal with death and loss; engaging the public and professionals through live events and podcasts; undertaking impactful, cutting-edge, inter-disciplinary research; influencing thought and policy through roundtables, conferences and seminars; providing resources through their website; and influencing the public conversation around living and dying well in the media.   

Grant Award: The Centre received Day for Life grants in 2018, 2019 and 2020. 

 The need for new approaches to death and dying is acute. Large swathes of the population risk a form of spiritual, social and emotional impoverishment as they approach the end of life. Too often, death is primarily a medical event in which the patient does not have a companion to journey alongside them or ‘walk them home’ in ways that respect their uniqueness and human dignity. The resulting burden of mental ill-health, grief and stigma surrounding death and bereavement is causing avoidable distress to the dying, to their carers, and to loved ones. This burden has a strong social gradient, with the poorest and most vulnerable experiencing the worst impact. Moreover, while we are seeing people living for longer, those extra years of life are not always spent in good health or surrounded by support.  

Our health and social care system has become almost unable to help people prepare for a good death, and this is a major concern for our common good. The consequences of this affect treatment and care for those who die and affect the ongoing lives and grieving of those bereaved. We have heard today that the poorest fare worst in this. We must hold those dying and those bereaved in love and be alongside them. This is a social, not just a clinical imperative.

Jim McManus, Director of Public Health, Hertfordshire Royal Society of Medicine Symposium on End-of-Life Care, 2018

How has the funding helped the organisation?  

The Centre’s achievements so far include training programmes that have reached over a thousand individuals in frontline caring roles, including trainee teachers, seminarians and community volunteers (in partnership with the SVP); ‘The Internet and the End of Life’, a ground-breaking investigation of tens of thousands of public online conversations about death and dying; the trialling in hospitals and hospices of innovative ‘deathbed etiquettes’; cutting-edge research about what makes for a good end of life companion; events and conferences which have attracted over a thousand individuals (healthcare workers, carers, the bereaved and the dying), a website and podcasts that have attracted hundreds of thousands of users and media coverage and appearances across numerous national newspapers, websites and broadcasters. Feedback from the dying, the bereaved and frontline carers shows that the work of the Centre has touched many lives and has the potential to influence many more.   

You can read more on the St. Mary’s University website, where the Centre has been based since 2018:


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