What does "celebrating life" mean to you?

People across Essex are being asked to celebrate life by sharing their favourite images of friends, family or pets that have died in a bid to start conversation about why dying matters.

The online campaign, called Die Well Essex, is being supported by health, social care, charities and voluntary groups across the county in the lead up to a national awareness week called Dying Matters during 8-14 May.

Using Instagram, people are being encouraged to share their favourite images of people, places or things that celebrate life as well as acknowledging the reality of death.

It’s also hoped that the social media campaign will start a conversation about why dying matters and help to signpost people to support and services available locally.

Dr Elizabeth Towers, a Macmillan GP working in Chelmsford, explains:

We’re looking for photos of places where people have felt happiest before dying or images of people and things that celebrate life in the face of death. It doesn’t have to be gloomy, although for some people the right image will contain sadness.

At the same time as sharing a picture, we’re looking to start a conversation about what people in the community can do to plan for dying and how people can support others in times of grief and bereavement.

Caring for people at the end of life is often the most difficult and overwhelming but talking about it and planning for dying can take a lot of the anxiety away.

As part of wide network of health and care services supporting people to live and die well, it’s important to raise the profile of dying and to share experiences.

The online campaign will support the key theme of this year’s national Dying Matter awareness week – What Can You Do? – see http://www.dyingmatters.org/ for more information.

People can share images via their own Instagram account – all that is needed is a sentence on what the picture represents along with #DieWellEssex or tagging @DieWellEssex.

Join in with the conversation in the lead up to, and during Dying Matter Week 8-14 May, on Twitter or on Facebook.