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A Matter of Life and Death Festival 2023
Via Diane Parkes for BrumYODO
A Matter of Life and Death Festival returns this May 2023 with a host of events across Birmingham. Aiming to encourage open and honest conversation about death and dying, the festival includes author talks, a remembrance get-together, a walking tour, an interactive tour of a cemetery plus the chance to visit an undertakers’ premises.
Organised by Birmingham-based community interest company BrumYODO, the award-winning A Matter of Life and Death Festival (May 2nd to 16th 2023) is now in its seventh year. This year sees BrumYODO organising To Absent Friends, a small informal gathering at The Junction in Harborne on 3rd May. The event brings people together over dinner to share stories and memories of family and friends they have loved who have died.
BrumYODO Board member Alison Cox says:
We have joined with lots of partners to bring a variety of events to Birmingham during A Matter of Life and Death. Some are fun, some are informative, some are about conversations, some are about sharing memories.
But what they all have in common is providing a comfortable space for people to talk about death, dying, grief and bereavement.”
The festival features Campo Santo: Discover more about death in the Jewellery Quarter with two special tours, a picnic and a Death over Drinks discussion! The event includes an interactive audio tour in Warstone Lane Cemetery, picnic, an informal conversation over cake and hot drinks and a tour of the historic Stamp Shop at The Coffin Works Museum. Organised by ITZATNA Arts Collective, The Coffin Works Museum, Birmingham City Council Bereavement Services and BrumYODO, Campo Santo takes place on 13th May.
Sebas Hau of ITZATNA Arts says:
During Campo Santo we will be comparing and contrasting the Victorian and 20th century histories of death, burials and memorials between Mexico and the UK.”
Brummies are invited to take a step back in time with the Life and Death in Birmingham tour organised by Birmingham Heritage Walking Tours on 7th May. The walk will explore the city’s last public hanging, The Battle of Snow Hill Station and Birmingham’s Nuclear Bunker among other local places of interest.
Organiser Kevin Thomas says:
The Life and Death in Birmingham walking tour is an enlightening experience that helps us to recognize the preciousness of life. It takes us back through time to explore some of the historical relationships with Birmingham and how it has shaped our lives today.”
The Heath Bookshop in Kings Heath is hosting a series of author events including a discussion with Anna Lyons and Louise Winter, authors of We All Know How This Ends – lessons about life and living through working with death and dying on 12th May. On 14th May the shop hosts a reading and discussion with Hollie Starling, author of The Bleeding Tree, followed by an event with Helen Calcutt, whose poetry collection Somehow explores her grief at the death of her brother.
Catherine Gale and Claire Dawes co-owners of The Heath Bookshop say:
We feel really privileged to have been asked to be part of BrumYODO’s A Matter of Life and Death Festival as we strongly agree with their perspective that talking openly about death and dying will help us prepare for dying and loss.”
Kings Heath undertakers A Natural Undertaking will be holding an open evening at their premises on 10th May. Carrie Weekes, co-owner of A Natural Undertaking, says:
It’s a business that we don’t really think about until we have to. However, knowing what the role of an undertaker is can make planning a funeral a more positive and empowering experience which can lead to a more healthy grief.”
The festival also includes Death over Drinks discussions and Death Cafes. Find out more about BrumYODO and book tickets here: brumyodo.org.uk/events.