Tuesday, 16 September 2014

GET RID of us professional funeralists.

If you let your cursor hover flirtatiously over the title above, it will take you to a BBC website article about printed houses, for people to live in on Mars and the moon (uhuh. Why? What's the point? Enlighten me someone please...) It then goes on, much more interestingly, to computer-printed houses right here on earth. Houses built at a fraction of the costs and the time of your standard housing estate box.

The article mentions the hostility of some architects, who claim it debases their professional skills. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder - Frank Lloyd Wright is a design hero now, but he wasn't always, and as for Le Corbusier...And there are those of us who marvel that the National Theatre must surely have been designed and built by a robot, or a very angry person. Opposition to printed houses via aesthetic arguments would need some careful thought. How lovely a sight is a contemporary suburban housing estate?

Construction firms will no doubt also be pretty hostile. It would be a huge upheaval. 

What's this got to do with funerals, Gloria? I can hear you ask. (I hope...)

If computer-printed houses dispense with most of the skills and labours of professionals, then a truly co-operative, community model for living with the end of life would get rid of most of the paid work of celebrants and undertakers.


 Just to repeat it again: a community (adjoining villages, small town, city district) has in it people who would occasionally give their skills to supporting people who are dying; to caring for their bodies when they are dead; to carrying out a funeral ceremony,  and to supporting the bereaved. They wouldn't expect payments, except sometimes - for expenses involved in body care, for example. This would build community relationships (deaths bring people together) and save people a hell of a lot of money.

Never mind (for the moment) the Scottish referendum; devolve funerals to the community, not the governing elite of undertakers and celebrants.

GET RID OF US! (mostly.)

I would work locally for expenses only, if I were helping with ten funerals a year instead of fifty, if I were helping to organise and co-ordinate something people were doing themselves, saying what they want to say, doing what they want to do, and holding that ceremony where they wanted.

DOWN with gruesome crematorium chapels, neo-Gothic "chapels of rest," rushed half-hour ceremonies.

ALL POWER to the dead and the bereaved.


  1. Well, the bereaved anyway. Not sure what an empowered dead person would look like!

    Seriously, when I cash in my chips and retire to my rocky fastness on the south coast I shall offer myself free to my community -- and maybe do 8 a year. As a result I will work not in a service capacity but as a fellow citizen. I feel the altered dynamic will make all the difference to the quality of the working relationship and the funeral itself. At the same time I shall take pleasure in subverting the commodification of the funerals business. (Instead, I shall offer a professional service helping blind people cross the street. Joke.)

  2. That's a wonderful plan, Charles, and I wish you well with it. I'll bet you a glass or three of Cote du R that you can't stick to eight, because people will want you to do more. It's not easy, is it, to turn down a direct request from someone you know, even if just a little, or a family you have already worked with - especially, perhaps, if you are working as a fellow-citizen. (Though would you not still be in a service capacity, just a free service.)

    But I'm sure the altered dynamic will make a difference, as you say. I think it would be brave to offer yourself alone, maybe you could find like-minded people, the germ of your co-operative idea?