1. Contrary to the widely held belief that the British don’t like to talk about death, I have found the opposite to be true. People are grateful once the conversation has been started, and desperate to join in.
2. Writing about death, and indeed working with death for 19 years doesn’t make you an expert, or one iota less scared of it. It remains a mystery to me, and a source of deep sadness.
3. Writing about death can open up dialogues about every aspect of our lives, from spirituality to sexuality and politics. As part of the human experience all of these are linked, and all benefit from the silence being broken.
4. Writing about death can shift things both subtly and structurally in our wider society. Demystifying the process on a practical level empowers people to look for some control in what seems to be an uncontrollable process and an uncertain world. Knowledge is power.
5. Writing about death is part of a long tradition of raising up uncomfortable truths to the light, part of our slow growth in civilising behaviours. To some it is unbearable, to others it is deeply authentic. Honesty is sexy.
Rupert Callender is a ceremonial undertaker, who started The Green Funeral Company in 1999 with his partner Claire. They became undertakers, (they prefer the term to ‘Funeral Directors’ with its implied etiquette and control) after hearing about The Natural Death Centre charity, an organisation that sprung from the counterculture. Their training mainly consisted of reading The Natural Death Handbook and being influenced personally by punk, acid house and crop circles.