Ideal Death Show draws a big crowd

Dawn is playing dead on the bamboo trestle table. Claire is demonstrating the origami-stye folds needed to get the shroud neatly wrapped around Dawn with the sewn-on hand grips in the right position for carrying.  This was just one of the many demonstrations that took place at The Ideal Death Show held in Birmingham (U.K.), reported in a story by Tim Willis (Now for a New Undertaking… Welcome to the Ideal Death Show, Newsweek September 13).  Charles Cowling, author of The Good Funeral Guide and Brian Jenner are co-founders of the Show.  They have staged the event for the ‘progressive’ end of undertaking.   People like Poppy Mardall, who runs a no frills funeral business using a van painted with poppies instead of a hearse. Her philosophy is to cut her own costs as much as her clients.  She doesn’t have an office, or a parlour.  She rents mortuary space and a preparation room from her local hospital.

‘The way Poppy sees it, keeping the whole process of death and dispatch under wraps is in the traditional undertakers’ interests. The don’t-you-worry-we’ll-take-care-of-everything approach plays on people’s vulnerability and ignorance. “If someone implies that you shouldn’t be troubled by unpleasant and unnecessary stress, you’re much less likely to realise that getting involved in a funeral can make it more meaningful, more cathartic and less upsetting,” she says. “There is no ‘proper’ way to do it, only what seems appropriate in the circumstances.”‘

And that’s the message of the Ideal Death Show. To look beyond the modern 20th century’s hands-off approach.  There’s a move for midwives to be trained in preparing corpses – as in olden days; there’s pressure for a consumer-rights body; and there’s warmth and good humour in the new wave of funeral providers.  See the full story at:

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