The Croydon family firm of funeral directors Rowland Brothers marked this week’s national Dying Matters Awareness Week with two full-day seminars at the town’s Jurys Inn Hotel and a day-long exhibition in the Fairfield Halls Sun Lounge, titled The Big Conversation Life Planning Event.

Both seminars attracted large audiences of social workers, care workers, police family liason officers, clergy and voluntary church workers, and grief and bereavement counsellors. For many, their certificated attendance counted as part of their professional studies and training.

On Tuesday, internationally renowned bereavement expert Dr Bill Webster travelled from Canada to speak and lead discussion on ‘Grief, Crisis and Compassion’, with an emphasis on children’s grief. His deep knowledge and experience of the subject, coupled with his outstanding public speaking skills, enthralled the delegates, who enthusiastically took the opportunity to question him during the coffee and lunch breaks as well as the workshop sessions.

Surprise attendees during the afternoon sessions were 10 South Korean experts in the field of anti-suicide counselling, who had heard of the Croydon event during their visit to the UK as part of Dying Matters Awareness Week. They also visited the Thursday event at Fairfield Halls.

The following day, the seminar was led by Carole Henderson of the Grief Recovery Method. Her Grief Recovery Institute is said to be the only organisation in the world solely dedicated to the topic of grief in all forms of grief, not just bereavement. Again, the delegates listened eagerly to her unique viewpoint, engagingly presented with both humour and compassion.

The Big Conversation Life Planning Event on Thursday was open to the public and attracted a steady stream of visitors eager to take the opportunity to ask questions of professionals in the End of Life Planning field. Topics covered included wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, inheritance tax planning, funeral advice and pre-paid funeral plans, trusts, life assurance and critical illness insurance, hospices, care fees planning, senior living, palliative care,care home advice, bereavement support and advice, writing an Advance Care Plan, and eco friendly funerals and natural burial grounds.

As well as many members of the public, the event drew other professionals involved in the care of elderly people and those who are terminally ill, members of the medical and social work professions, counsellors and bereavement advice givers.