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Cultural paradigm shift on death interpretation through public intervention

Death is a taboo subject in Western European societies. In order to bring death into our societies as a natural part of life, we suggest to build interactions between children and people close to the end of their lives. To do so, we have designed a cross-cutting project involving the Public Health, Education, and Wellbeing departments. The program will be implemented both in schools and in hospitals (other places such as nursing homes might also be considered suitable for our purpose).

At a first stage, children at primary schools will take part in a one-year course which will tackle the question of death from the natural, social, historical, and cultural comparative perspective. During the course, children will be asked if they want to complement it with a personal interaction with people who are facing death. The decision will be taken together by parents and their children. It will be of complete free choice.

In parallel, hospital patients facing death will be approached by the right specialists in order to select those of them who are conscious about their present situation and willing to interact with children.

The group of children and patients who have chosen to participate will be brought together into the same space and monitored by specialists. This will create an emotional moment which will be used for further discussion and learning in schools and hospitals. The experience will also be recorded and used to promote the website and other associated services.

Among these other services we have considered legal and bureaucratic information, voluntary support to relatives of the deceased, farewell letters, and surveys to improve the funeral services.

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