A safe, creative space to express stories of death and dying in your own way
Our workshops are:
- approx. two hours long – but can be flexible;
- for up to 15 adults;
- formulated to encourage creative responses to death and dying;
- designed as stand-alone events;
- easier to facilitate in terms of time commitment than a death preparation course.
Before embarking on a workshop, be clear about its purpose and the expected outcomes.
The overall purpose of a workshop is:
- To enable participants to get in touch with their feelings about death and dying;
- To enable participants to explore and articulate the meanings they bring to this reality;
- To listen to participants’ experiences and their personal and theological understandings;
- To generate and share stories, images and ‘bottom up’ theologies from experience in order to inform and feed the life of that particular Christian community.
For workshop leaders, the outcomes of a workshop can include:
- Deeper insight and understanding of where people are in their lives to inform ministerial practice;
- Deeper understanding of their own theologies;
- Enrichment of their personal, spiritual and professional lives through being open to receive wisdom and insight from others.
Certain things need to be in place to create an environment in which participants can feel supported and safe. This will ensure that everyone involved has as positive and enriching an experience as possible.
Before leading a workshop ensure you:
- Provide a participant information sheet so that people are clear about the purpose of the workshop; its structure and length; anonymity and boundaries; who is running it and how to contact them. You can download a sample participant information sheet.
- Obtain the contact details for participants in case you need to be in touch following the workshop. These details should be obtained and held in compliance with the current Data Protection Act.
- Be clear about what will happen to the work that people produce. It should be treated with the same respect as anything that is spoken or written. You may like to decide with the group what to do. People may simply want to take it home with them. However, if you want to be able to share either the original work or photographs with others, you will need to ask permission from individuals to do that including a clear agreement as to whether or not they want it to be attributed.
- Ensure that any notes taken are not attributable.
It’s important there are two workshop facilitators for the following reasons:
- When one person is giving input, the other can be aware of what is going on in the group, attend to practicalities and offer any support that may be required;
- One of the facilitators can take notes. Notes might provide theological reflection material for a leadership team;
- It provides a greater breadth of resources and experience;
- It provides mutual support during the workshop;
- It provides the opportunity to debrief after the workshop as part of self-care and to enrich learning and evaluation.
A workshop on death and dying may put people in touch with deep existential issues. It is important that if people wish to talk with someone following the workshop there is a named person they can contact for pastoral support. You need to ensure that people know how to contact that person should they wish to do so and that they can do so at any point after the workshop.
Who, when, where
Think carefully about who to invite to a workshop and the best time and place to hold it.
People encounter death and dying at any age, be it through personal illness, tragedy or loss or through media saturated with images and stories of death.
This workshop is suitable for any adult who has not been recently bereaved who would like to reflect on their personal engagement with mortality and its existential, spiritual and theological implications.
Who you invite will depend on your context. There may be a church or community group that would like to do the workshop, or you may want to issue a general invitation to people in your church, deanery, parish, or the wider local community.
The workshop can be run at any time of the year. However, you might like to tie it in either with a wider discussion about death and dying, for example a sermon series or Bible studies, or with a particular time in the Church’s year, such as Advent, Lent or Easter.
In practical terms, when you decide to hold the workshop will depend on the demographic of those taking part. For example, if people have work, family or care commitments, it may be difficult for them to come to a weekday afternoon session, whereas this may be a good time for people without such commitments. Some older people may be reluctant to turn out for an evening session, especially during the dark winter months.
The venue needs to be warm and comfortable with disabled access and toilets. If possible, it needs to be easily accessible by public transport. There will also need to be facilities for making refreshments and room for tables to work on.
It’s important to make sure the venue you choose is appropriate to the people you have invited. You may want to hold the workshop in a church that provides these facilities or in a church or parish hall or some other venue in the community.
It’s worth thinking carefully about these basic practical details as they provide the foundation for an effective and fruitful workshop.
This is a (non-definitive) list of the basic items you will need to deliver a workshop.
You will need three large tables for the different creative activities. People may choose to sit and work round a table or to take materials and work elsewhere.
A variety of paper and card of different sizes, textures and colours; a variety of pens and pencils of different colours; reflection cards; a selection of poems about death and life to provide inspiration
Different sizes of plain and coloured paper; scissors, glue sticks; a selection of materials such as tissue paper, ribbon, glitter, felt, coloured card – the more varied the better; a selection of magazines from which people can cut out words and images for their collage
A broad selection of crayons, pastels, pens, paints and paper; brushes and water pots if using water colour paint; kitchen paper for cleaning any mess
The evaluation of your workshop, by both participants and facilitators, is an important part of the work.
A short, anonymous evaluation form can be given to people to fill in at an appropriate point before they leave the session. Download the evaluation form.
This gives people the chance to feed back about their experience of the workshop and to raise any particular issues. It’s also a learning tool for the facilitator and, if the comments are positive, a source of encouragement and even inspiration.
After the workshop, it is important for facilitators to meet informally whilst the experience is still fresh. This provides space to debrief and to talk about:
- How they feel about the experience of facilitating the workshop;
- The things that went well that need to be captured;
- Questions and concerns that have arisen and need to be addressed;
- Things that need to be learned and used to inform subsequent workshops;
- Any issues that have arisen for the group or individuals;
- Any follow-up that is needed.
It’s also recommended that facilitators make time to write up their own reflections on the session, including their own responses and anything that has been evoked for them. This is part of being a good reflective practitioner and will maximise personal and professional learning and development. The insights gained can be used to inform the running of subsequent workshops or courses.
Checklist for facilitators
Before you start your workshop, run through this checklist to ensure you’re good to go.
- Have participants received an information sheet?
- Is the venue accessible and comfortable?
- Can refreshments be made available at the venue?
- Are there tables to use at the venue?
- Have you got copies of the poem and song lyrics, including large print copies as required?
- Have you got the practical resources such as:
- stickers for names
- pens/pencils/pastilles/paints etc
- cups/glasses to use for water
- various sizes of paper
- newspaper to cover tables
- kitchen roll for spills/hands
- magazines for collage
- music set up?
- Do you have the names and contact details of participants held in compliance with the current Data Protection Act in case there are things you need to follow up with people after the workshop?
- Is there a named person that people can contact for pastoral support? Do people know who they can contact and how to do so?
- Content - how the workshop goes
- Sheet to give to participants
- Two A5 flyers for publicity
- Evaluation form to be used for feedback
- Buy reflection cards (optional)