“I struggle with the topic of death. We all know it’s coming but I really do struggle with the idea that there is an end point to all of this. It’s on my mind a lot.”
With that in mind, it seems ironic that comedian Greg Davies headlined an event for LOROS Hospice as part of Dying Matters Week, a national campaign which comes around annually as a way of encouraging people to talk about death and dying. way of encouraging people to talk about death and dying.
When we at LOROS mentioned him getting involved with supporting the Hospice and Dying Matters Week, his response was, “I don’t think you should force people to talk about dying and death.”
There we were though, days away from the event, which centred around death, dying and bereavement. Ahead of the evening, the team at LOROS caught up with Greg to see how he was feeling about stepping outside of his comfort zone.
Best known for his witty humour in TV’s The Inbetweeners, Task Master, Man Down and Cuckoo, Greg admits he gravitates towards darker subjects, especially when on stage, which will inevitably make the audience feel uncomfortable. It’s a trait of most comedians, he says, “we feed off these toe-curling topics”. His on-stage persona masks these taboo issues with quick-thinking humour, “you know, those things you wouldn’t naturally talk about in polite company”, just like death and dying.
He does the same at home, when his mum tries to talk about dying and what will happen to her belongings – those priceless items that she has collected in her lifetime. She worries that it will all end up in a skip one day. He and his sister laugh it off when she tries to bring it up. After all, “why would I want to think about one us not being around anymore?” he says. He doesn’t want to think about that.
Of course, it goes without saying that they have had those conversations, for his mum’s sake. He doesn’t like having them but he does it, for his mum.
“Me not being around hasn’t happened yet, so why do I need to talk about it? It doesn’t need dealing with at the moment.”
It’s no surprise that any planning for his own funeral is non-existent. He doesn’t care what song plays and he doesn’t have any wishes for when he dies. In fact, he says he finds people wanting their mourners to wear colour, absolute nonsense. “It just doesn’t resonate with me,” he adds. “People who love me won’t be happy when I’ve died and that’s that.”
On Friday, Greg sat in front of an audience a lot smaller than the kind he’s used to. He stepped outside his comfort zone and facing the subject he fears most – dying – head on, as he spent the evening talking to fellow comedian Cariad Lloyd for a live episode of her award-winning podcast, Griefcast. It was an intimate evening and one that Greg is prepared to do for LOROS.
“I trust that Cariad will handle the conversation sensitively”, he says, ahead of the night. He might not like speaking about dying but it is clear Greg loves speaking about his late father, Bob. A man he describes as being loving, silly, clever, frustrating, contradictory and brilliant. He was at the centre of Greg’s world and the comedian firmly believes he is pivotal to his successful career.
“Dad didn’t want to talk about dying and I respected that.”
Greg loves talking about his dad though and keeping his memory alive. After so many months of grieving, he now finds himself smiling when he thinks about him, instead of crying.
“I’m looking forward to the event,” he says. “I love talking about dad, it sounds cheesy but talking about him makes it feel like he’s still here, with me.”
Greg was also joined by fellow comedian, Barry Castagnola, who he has worked with previously.
Dying Matters Week
Every year in May, LOROS hosts Dying Matters, a national awareness-raising week to encourage people everywhere to talk openly about death, dying and bereavement. LOROS is holding a week-long series of events from 13th-19th May 2019. For more details visit loros.co.uk/dyingmatters
LOROS Hospice is a local charity which cares for more than 2,500 people across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland every year.
We provide free, high-quality, compassionate care and support to terminally ill adult patients, their family and carers.
LOROS services include:
An In-patient unit of 31 beds
A Palliative Day Therapy Unit
A Counselling Service for patients and their families
Medical Outpatients Clinics
Complementary Therapy Clinics
A Community Nurse Specialist Team
A grant from the NHS of approximately one third is received, which leaves £6 million annually for LOROS to raise. The Charity relies on the support of the local community and businesses in order to raise this vital £6 million of funds.