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Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Life.Death.Whatever ... next?

I've wanted to write something about the Life.Death.Whatever. event for over a week now, since making my visit to the National Trust's Sutton House in Hackney where the October long event is being held. There was much to take in so I needed to start before too long goes by.
As I write this remarkable experience is in its last week; the creators and curators Louise Winter  and  Anna Lyons deserve praise and awards for the rich content that has gone into the exhibition. 
Use the website to see the ideas and contents of the exhibition; I'd like to reflect a little on my visit. I was able to attend the Good Funeral weekender where a variety of funeral providers and celebrants interacted with visitors set amongst the installations. I've included some pictures below.
I was able to reflect on the death of my father and who he was to me. This was really helpful as I come to understand who I am, and be at peace with what our relationship had as well as what was missed. Dad died 12 years ago and I'm conscious too that I am possibly - as has been mentioned recently - turning into my father. Given his health deteriorated with dementia progressing to dying aged 77 I'd prefer a different ending. Whatever ending that will be, Life Death Whatever helped me rethink how ones life can be celebrated as it ends and in terms of what happens when death happens. I realised we did a good thing in celebrating dad and his life; more recent family funerals have also been uplifting in terms of celebration rather than extreme somber-ness.
It's time to consider how I'd like to be remembered at the time of farewell; this requires thought and discussion with my loved ones. It will need financial planning and careful consideration; I have lots of music I'd like to include as well as some words to say, that is to have said. The great thing I learned on my visit was that there are many creative people who are willing to help with the farewell planning of an individualised event. 
From the coffin ball pit, the paintings, sculptures, digital recordings, talks and creative cocktails plus NT type tea coffee and cakes LifeDeathWhatever was thought provoking, challenging of traditional 
funeral rites, and a beautiful way to consider what we might like to do when death comes. After life there's death, and to save an awkward Whatever for those who are left behind, I suggest you get planning.
Thanks and congratulations go to all involved with LifeDeathWhatever; it will have affected people in many ways and I'm just describing one of the areas that it's had impact on me. I hope the team will be able to take LifeDeathWhatever forward; the openness of the conversations should however be all the responsibility of all of us. 

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