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This pop-up shop in Lewisham is getting us to talk about death and dying

Written by
Alexandra Sims

We visit The Departure Lounge: a pop-up in Lewisham Shopping Centre that’s trying to make a taboo subject a bit less scary. 

A departure lounge! Are we going on holiday?
Kind of. This pop-up in Lewisham Shopping Centre may look like an airport – there are piles of suitcases and posters of sunny beaches – but shoppers wandering in will examine another kind of journey: the one-way trip that (as sure as we pay taxes) we’re all destined to take one day. ‘Over half of British adults avoid saying the word “death”,’ one poster reads. The Departure Lounge is here to change all that.


Death?! That doesn’t sound like fun.
Well, this initiative created by The Academy of Medical Sciences and The Liminal Space isn’t trying to make dying jolly. It’s aiming to demystify death and get us talking about a topic often seen as taboo.

What will I find there? 
Head along and you’ll find suitcases filled with stories of people’s experiences with dying loved ones and luggage tags revealing how medical science has changed the way people die. There are ‘lockers’ with each door revealing statistics, recordings from medical professionals and practical advice. Friendly experts, who have all been involved in palliative care, are on hand if you fancy having a deeper chat. Or, you can write your hopes and fears about the end of life on an interactive departure board. One note says: ‘For my final journey I’d like my coffin to come into a cabaret bar and everyone do karaoke (whether they like it or not).’

Maybe it doesn’t sound so scary after all!
That’s the idea. In fact, one expert told us about a group of school children who started discussing immortality after seeing the question ‘Do you want to live for ever?’ written on the wall.  If they can break taboos, you can too. 

Tempted to visit Lewisham? Find out what else is there by taking a look at our area guide

Find more great things to do in London this month with our May guide.

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