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going to be a father, Stuart Arnott also found out that his mother had cancer. Wanting her to experience the beginning of her granddaughter’s life, he sent her printed photographs; with mum being technology-shy, he couldn’t email pictures to her. Stuart, however, thought there must be a

better way, and developed a new type of digital photo frame that he could send pictures to, straight from his smartphone. It meant that in the time before his mother died, she could easily be a part of her granddaughter’s early life. Stuart developed the project into an iPad App

and a service called Mindings, which he now uses to connect meaningfully with his father. The touch-screen device is connected to calendars, address books, and to-do lists, and now his father can receive photos, reminders, messages and more – and importantly, let his family know he’s received them – all at the touch of a screen, and without having to go near a computer. The Dying Matters coalition encourages

everyone to talk more openly about end of life issues, and these conversations need to be handled with compassion and sensitivity. But when talking about dying, death and bereavement feels too difficult, it’s important to remember that by thinking creatively, we may find other ways to open a dialogue.

Not everything needs to be heard to be understood


WHEN YOU GO TO THE THEATRE and watch a performance it is up to the director whether they include the audience or not. A ‘fourth wall’ can be put in place excluding the audience, or it can be broken down, inviting them to join in on the action. Many people enjoy going to see a

performance in which they can be involved; whereas others fear it, wishing to stay spectators rather than participators. I’ve been to a few ‘performances’ where all I wanted was to be involved, but that fourth

wall has been in place from before I was a baby-in-arms and has never really been broken down. The wall that I’m taking about isn’t made up of bricks and mortar, plastered and finished off with a nice neutral shade of mellow mocha; it is the barrier of language. It seems like a strange way of describing language, something that is so commonly known for enhancing communication; but what happens when it somewhat limits it? And what about when that limitation stops you from hearing and learning about people who are not only close to you but part of the puzzle of what makes you who you are? Nain (grandma) and taid (granddad) were

both given a lovely send-off; traditional, respectful, very them. I was in the audience at both funerals with my two older brothers, dad and my cousin, along with extended members of the family and friends. The only family funerals I have been to have

been my aunty’s, my nain’s and my taid’s. And they were all conducted entirely in Welsh. This is where my drama babble about

fourth walls and language comes into play and ,after thinking it through for some time, in the evening or in those moments just before sleep whisks you away, it all seems to make sense somehow. I was watching a performance, along with

my two brothers who don’t speak Welsh either, where it was intended by the director that the wall should be broken down and we should be invited to join in, but we couldn’t. There is no blame and I don’t feel angry, but I think it does play a massive part in my own personal reaction to such an important performance that I was somewhat part of. Maybe this has shaped my understanding

and feelings towards these sort of performances or maybe in some way it was protecting me from the pain and anguish I would have felt. Who knows, but for me I was so happy

to be a spectator and even though, in the most part, I could not understand what was being said, not everything needs to be heard to be understood.

Richard Livingston, a volunteer at St. Joseph’s Hospice, London, photographed by Nadia Bettega Farewell Magazine 47

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