Talking about death is difficult. It’s the one thing we can all be sure will happen to us but we act much of the time as if we were immortal. In previous centuries death was quite literally much closer to home, but now many people live into adulthood and even middle age without having seen a dead person.
But it will happen – to ourselves and to those we love. Isn’t it a good idea to prepare? To start thinking about how we want to be cared for in old age (anticipatory care plans). To reflect on what kind of funeral we might want to have. Not least, this takes away a burden from our family. When someone dies there is not much time to plan for a funeral and it can be so helpful to know what their wishes are.
There are all sorts of projects to help us talk about death. One of these is the Death Café – people getting together over a coffee to discuss any aspect of death.
Then there is Coffin Club. Originating in New Zealand, Coffin Clubs are now opening up across Scotland and England. Several of my celebrant friends and colleagues have started Coffin Club Caledonia, which has four branches: Dundee & Angus, Fife, Perthshire, and Falkirk. The clubs are educational forums, running courses and providing comprehensive information about end-of-life choices to the general public.
Each week, industry specialists (funeral directors, end-of-life doulas, natural burial grounds, crematorium staff) come and talk to club members. It’s a chance to inform them of how they can effectively fulfil their funeral wishes. All done in a warm and friendly social setting.
Coffin Clubs are about choice. They are absolutely not about telling people there’s a right way or a wrong way to celebrate a life. Instead they help inform people of all their options and let them plan the way that’s right for them – be that a direct cremation, a conventional crematorium, burial, a religious service, or something more bespoke.
And of course, there’s the opportunity to sign up to decorate your own, study and suitable ‘flat packed’ coffin.
For more information contact:
Empower yourself to sort out the end of your life so you can get on with living…. ¡viva la funeral revolución!
Michael Hannah, 14 February 2022