Free-writing study in palliative care and bereavement

Drawing on the Rev Dr Goodhead’s work in one hospice, the free-writing strand examines the growing practice of allowing relatives to create written personal memories in the chapel or quiet room which are then added to ‘bereavement trees’ or memorial books. These writings comprise aspects of both mourning and remembering, practices encouraged by hospice memorial services.

As focal points for the study ten hospices have been selected from around the UK where a book or tree for memorial writing is available. The study will collect text from each site over a one month period for analysis and comparison. The Rev Dr Goodhead will also attend one bereavement service for each site as an observer and collect text from submitted written memorials at these events.

The free-writing strand facilitates a close examination of the relationship between private and public memorialising practices. Text will be compared with intimate and private memorials in other parts of the study. Our study will also enable a comparison of the popularity and uses of this growing form of memorialising across different geographical locations with a range of socio-economic and cultural contexts.