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In our own words

Local writer Sue Hulse was commissioned to write a poem for the Compassionate Communities conference.
She read the poem and  told a personal story of her grandfather’s at the Conference, and both are reproduced here



Compassionate Communities – A Poem

The poet has a permit to enable words to flow and free up thoughts,

Prevents them from being hidden away,

Blocking pipes, brain cells, causing stress and anxiety, stored

In hidden folders within cupboards with lame excuses, that won’t do.

I’m empowering you, I’m handing out seeds, plant them.

It’s about our Health and Well being,

The tasks to talk, find time to ask.

Start the discourse, discuss, request, chat!

Think about, the cycle of birth through life; Planned all the way

Trying to get it right, until we reach the end!

We look back, at what was sent our way,

And those last days are often the hardest to work out.

We often hide emotions or, our right to say, to speak to think and plan toward the last.

Should we not have an end plan?

A Document of care and support?

Papers, saying what we want!

Our needs addressed, Preventing anxiety and confusion

For those left behind.

This should sit next to the last will and testimony accessible.

Approach it! And do the task.

It’s not easy, when we deny the use of words, The Death word, the Dying and Loss word, sat

on the tips of our tongues, waiting the right time.....

When we know they should come out...but we hide them in our vocabulary box, a ‘maybe a

next week’ box or ‘don’t want to talk about it’, box;

Boxes covered in their very own shroud, that we dare not lift out of fear....taboo, the

abbreviated....mustn’t go there box.

Yet this talk is healthy!

Removing the anxiety, Caring about you talk.

Supporting communities,

Talking to the end, the ultimate destination point,

The inevitable box.

Communities celebrate new life... in blues or pink and sometimes sparkly drink!

Then at the end...we dare not think.

Compassionate communities must support this time, to live and to die well.

We need to aim for social change, family, community and policy.

Compassion has a health promotion... Community benefits...This

is the motion!

Education about death and dying

Story, reflection and expectation.

We need to research to make social change

Share common bonds

Transform old ideas and ways of working together,

Forgotten, traditions the way it was, needs to return.

Restored and renewed.

Find the men and woman with the true vocation

Recruit them as enablers, comforters, listeners, teams in action.

Give people purpose, in turn they have pride,

Community duty, brought back to life.

Linked to Care and Health when needed,

Plant the thoughts, let them be seeded.

Create opportunities for Compassion.

The wealth of dying, the end celebration

Compassionate Communities a new intervention


When it’s my time

Keep music playing in the background, none of that Vera Lynn!

Send for Dr John to play me his Blues Harp, Anne from Blackheath to sing me Nina Simone.

Find someone who reads well with a nice voice to read me Dylan Lyrics, and then let us make toast after toast with Polish Cherry Vodka in crystal cut glasses; served with chocolate cake with my family and friends around me.


Allow me a bit of fresh air, sit me on a stool next to my lovely shed and I’ll day dream about summers in the sun and snowmen in the winter, wearing silly hats.

Help me continue to communicate, stimulate me help me to make things, pictures, textiles, let me cook and keep my camera nearby.

Let me be at home within the walls I know, Let me wear all matter of crazy clothes, dress me up in the things I like....don’t dress me in night dresses and dressing gowns or anything fluffy. Don’t forget my costume jewellery. I prefer what I call pit socks to slippers...and don’t pour boiling water onto my coffee let it cool a little first. Serve me tea with a slice of lemon....and let me wash up when I can.

Don’t refuse my visitors no matter how I look, go out if you can’t stand them, I’ll be alright.

Should I not be able, please massage me especially my feet and legs with Aloe Vera’ that’s the only Vera I like! Just like me My Mam did for Dad.

I like a spray of Christian Dior. ‘Addict’ is the only addiction I have that does me good. Floss my teeth if I have any of my own and make sure my hair is spiked even if I reach 90.

If I can’t write can someone help me, yah know like that Barbara Cartland had, but don’t take the ‘Mick’ don’t dress me up like her, in pink frocks and false eyelashes.

Make my coffin a cheerful one, as cheap and as colourful as you can. I’ve seen some on the internet with Sunflowers.....just like the ones in my Babcia’s garden, tall proud and reaching for the sky. Don’t have handles on as they don’t use them any way and I hope I’m not 14 stone! ; No bouquets ...gather anything from my garden.

May everyone I leave behind, make sandwiches on good bread for the Doo. Don’t do fancy, wholesome is best.

Tell people not to buy flowers or send money to charity just for once. Tell them to hang on, and with my ashes...............

May I be so bold, spend that money on a bus ride to the sea side on the Yorkshire Coast! Itwill do every one the world of good, Give everyone a good day out, let them walk along the beach, wearing old comfortable clothes and then let my ashes, On a wave on a breeze...sing me a song, anything with gusto, have a good laugh, build sandcastles and don’t care who’s watching.......then go. Lunch on Fish and chips served with tea, bread and butter; and just think how much I’d have loved to join in!

Don’t grieve, don’t cry, get on with your lives... read the stuff I left in envelopes about how much I love you all and sing the songs I couldn’t sing, read the books I cherished and turn the pages I turned and you’ll love them. Look at the pictures I made and put them under the bed if yah don’t like them.


Over to you

We would love to receive your contributions – whether a poem, story or other prose pieces. Simply email your contribution to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sandwell Compassionate Communities - End Of Life Care & Support - Coping with Death and Dying - Palliative Care

Murray HallBridgesNHS West MidlandsSandwell NHS