DEATH, bereavement and grief: topics often tucked away in the corner of the mind, not to be confronted in daily conversation.

This week an end-of-life care specialist in Oxford is calling time on the taboo, encouraging people to talk about death and dying.

Sobell House Hospice will host a series of events to coincide with Dying Matters Week, which runs from today until Sunday.

The annual week is overseen by the national charity Hospice UK and campaigns to open up conversation about death.

Tim Harrison, clinical lead for Sobell House and a consultant in palliative medicine, said: "The issue of not knowing what to say to adults and children when they lose someone often leads many to saying nothing at all, which can result in someone feeling more isolated and alone.

"We want to open up the discussion and help people understand how the subject should be approached when it needs to be."

The first event is an open evening at Christ Church tomorrow evening, during which speakers will discuss how best to talk to children about death and dying.

It supports a project run by Sobell in the past few months, in which primary schools were given lesson plans to help teach pupils about death in a sensitive and age-appropriate manner.

Speakers at Christ Church will include representatives from Sobell House, Katharine House Hospice, bereveament charity Seesaw, Maggies cancer centre and Oxford Palliative Care Education Group.

Also speaking at the event is Ebonie O'Connor, whose dad Georg O'Connor died six years ago at Sobell when she was just 12.

Didcot resident Miss O'Connor, 18, said: "Opening up the conversation about death and dying with children is hard, but so important.

"It shouldn't be a taboo subject and children must understand that it's ok to talk about it.

"When I lost my dad, my brothers and I had so much support from the team at Seesaw and Sobell House.

"It helped me to understand my feelings, and how to talk about them with people."

The teenager said she hoped to share how the charities' support helped her through such a difficult time.

She added: "I share my feelings and can now help my teenage friends understand theirs, especially in the lead up to A-Levels.

"It’s really important that my brothers and I continue to open up and not isolate ourselves in any way."

During Dying Matters Week, Sobell will also stage a series of workshops in Oxfordshire's hospitals.

These will offer guidance and support for families and patients facing end of life.

Topics will include making a will, organ donation and funeral arrangements.

A bus will also tour the county to remind people about death, dying and bereavement and spread awareness of the campaign, stopping at various locations on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Events will end with the five-kilometre Forget Me Not family run at Stratfield Brake in Kidlington, in which children and their families from across the county are invited to take part.

For more information about the Dying Matters events visit, or to sign up to the Forget Me Not run call 01865 857007.