Few of us want to admit it, but death is one of life's certainties. As a nation, we find death and end of life wishes one of the most difficult topics to discuss. It is a sobering subject and people can find funeral planning a sensitive or awkward matter, as if talking about dying will somehow make it happen. This, however, need not be the case.
People almost always say nice things about dead people. You can't speak ill of the dead, people say, but they're wrong, you can, they can't hear you. It's not just obituaries, it's eulogies. I went to a funeral once and the vicar was saying such nice things that I thought I'd turned up to the wrong crematorium.
I wrote in December about doing Christmas brilliantly. I hope everyone did and had a great time. Part of that ramble was saying that Christmas is an opportunity to end the year well and start a new one well. Ending something well has become a bit of a theme over the last few weeks for a number of reasons.
Generally speaking, Western culture shuns, fears and hides from death whenever possible. It is shrouded in mystery, and in fact, in secrecy to some extent. We don't like to discuss it at all, but when we must, we use euphemisms for it. We shield our children from it, we don't let them attend funerals...
When Grace Gelder's self-marriage hit the headlines last week, it started a conversation about what it means to celebrate single life with a ceremony. I was the one who led Grace's ceremony that spring day. I'm what is known as a "celebrant" - someone who helps people create meaningful ceremonies that celebrate life.
I thought about writing about how I haven't seen wood lice in over ten years, but that's just weird right? So, I'm going to write about my funeral. Because that's not weird at all. The reason I'm writing about my funeral is because a friend of mine out of the blue recently said to me "If you die any time soon, can I have your clutch bag collection?"
Twitter, of course, seems to be doing its best to despatch the still living to the great beyond, with rumours of the deaths of pop stars, film actors and politicians regularly reaching halfway round the world before the 'mistake' - for which read 'spoof' - is unmasked. Margaret Thatcher has already died 10 times this year in the bubble of social media.
I had no idea about burials laws until coming across Wendii Miller, a Cambridge graduate, who carried out her own DIY burial for her 98-year-old mother Doris, even digging the grave after collecting her corpse from Grimsby Hospital mortuary and driving her mother's remains back to a burial site outside Harrogate.