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Each year in May, the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care organizes a week of events designed to raise awareness of end of life issues, funerals etc. The partnership runs this via its initiative Good Life Good Death Good Grief.

This year, the Scottish Independent Celebrants’ Association (SICA) has planned two events or activities for this Demystifying Death Week. The first is a sort of poetry exchange. We will ask our members for poems and readings for funerals that are perhaps a little different from the usual. Perhaps something that the celebrant has written themselves. Or something they have found that just captures someone’s life or character. Perhaps something that a family member has written.

It might even be something that doesn’t seem like a funeral type of reading at all…. imagine reading from a car maintenance manual for someone who had loved nothing better than tinkering with engines! We hope to collate all the results and make them available to members and perhaps more widely.

The other event is a staged funeral (two actually) at Brewsterwells Crematorium in Fife. We wanted to have some good images of funerals. Of course, unlike weddings, it is rarely appropriate to take photos at funerals. So we’ll be staging these “mock” funerals with our members and guests as “mourners”. A professional photographer, Jenn Knox of PhotoJenniK Photography will create a portfolio of images for SICA and our members to use. Jenn’s work shows incredible sensitivity to the many issues that images of death and grieving present.

But we also wanted this event to be a way to raise death literacy – demystify death. So we are making a video of the funerals. Our videographer, Lee Phillips of six4 productions, also has a keen understanding of what we need. SICA hopes that the resulting video clips will provide a really valuable tool to explain what happens in a funeral… and what possibilities exist. Something we can use over and over and that creates a template for future events. Brewsterwells is a crematorium but we might repeat this in a natural burial ground or a completely different venue.

Thanks are due to Brewsterwells and its team. Also to William Purves Funeral Directors, Good Life Good Death Good Grief and Agnostic Scotland for their support. And we are grateful to Sarah Lawson for BSL signing and helping to underline the importance of accessibility at funerals. Finally – thanks for beautiful flowers from Oor Fleurs!

This event will not be open to the general public but if you are interested to know more please don’t hesitate to contact me, Michael Hannah, on 07712 892479.

Michael Hannah, Dundee, May 2024

Demystifying Death Week – SICA activities

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