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O-5 Empty shadows: a film made by young people to demystify death and dying and to promote hospice work
  1. Sarah Popplestone-Helm1,2 and
  2. Dan Morgan2
  1. 1St Richard’s Hospice, Worcester, UK
  2. 2Royal Grammar School, Worcester, UK


An increased understanding of death within the younger generation is crucial to the demystifying of hospice work. A more balanced and healthier view of death, dying and bereavement has been encouraged through joint working between the hospice and a local grammar school. Fifteen Year 10 pupils visited the hospice as part of their Drama GCSE; they had a formal talk on hospice work, met with a bereaved person and asked questions regarding the family’s experience. A comprehensive tour of the building gave them insight into the work undertaken and of the environment. They developed a piece of live theatre called Empty Shadows which was then filmed. This film was created by the students and was filmed within the hospice itself. Pupils sensitively used the gardens, reception area, the in-patient unit and other hospice areas to act out the story. The 50 min film explores themes experienced by pupils whilst visiting the hospice: breaking bad news, how children understand and relate to the death of a loved one, creation of a memory box, writing letters to those who are being left behind, the importance of honesty and trust, the impact of bereavement on men, funerals, bereavement theories and the importance of support within schools and the work place. The film created from this innovative project will be used by the hospice’s Family Support Team to further their work with schools and colleges. They will use the resource to enable a more balanced and healthier view of death, dying and bereavement. The film is to be shown at the Worcestershire Palliative Care Conference in July 2017. Following the film, pupils and hospice staff will answer questions, encouraging and empowering professionals to work with young people to demystify death and dying and to promote hospice work.

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