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.
Cancer patients and their families are 20 times more likely to ask for help about financial issues than death and dying, figures suggest. Four out ...
I have been lucky enough in my life not to lose anyone that I was really close to. Apart from my grandparents, who passed away in old age, I can thankfully say that my immediate family and all of my good friends are still here with me. Death is the one thing that doesn't grow easier with age and I can only hope that I am strong enough to deal with the inevitable when it eventually happens.
Whenever human beings gather to celebrate, food and drink is there - wetting babies' heads, birthday cakes, parties, the Christmas dinner, the wedding breakfast. But it's also there at the more wan and sorrowful times, often in a quieter, more humbler guise; it has a part to play in healing the sick, and eventually, in the final commemoration of our lives.