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3 Oct 2014
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Happy Endings

Den, Cathy and Eileen are cheerful about death. They talked to Home Truths about how they plan to make their own funerals a day to remember ...

Not everyone finds the contemplation of their own funeral an unhappy thought. Cathy confesses "I enjoy funerals, I enjoy Irish funerals and wakes, they’re very passionate cheery affairs. A few years ago, I started thinking about my own, organising it, and deciding what I would wear, the music I would find appropriate. I want a Victorian glass hearse, horse drawn carriage with my coffin inside, make-up, hair, hat, nails - everything. Why not?"

Den Giddens, doesn’t visualise his final send off as a gothic funeral. He wants his send off to be cheap and cheerful so he asked his friend Ken to make him a DIY coffin. The two of them ordered the wood from a local timber yard. Ken remembers, "I came round to Den’s house one day with a tape measure. I said ‘How big do you want your coffin?" He said "I don’t know, but I don’t want to rattle around in it!" Den is well-pleased with Ken’s efforts, and currently uses his ‘flat-pack’ coffin as a hi-fi cupboard until needed "I’m almost looking forward to the day, you know!" He claims he never feels scared or spooked by the coffin in the corner.

Cathy’s mum, Eileen has her own ideas about her last public appearance. Cremation is absolutely out. "No-one’s cremating me. Oh! no, no, no, no, no. If a friend of mine dies, I want to see them before their coffin is closed - I want to say goodbye." Cathy explains, "It’s your last moment to touch their hand, kiss their forehead, straighten their hair, tell them that you love them …" Eileen agrees.

Eileen is Irish and is amazed that in England, children are not involved in death. She remembers as a young child, "people were always laid out, black crepe ribbon on the door. We would knock at the door as children and say ‘can we see the dead person?’ " Cathy is touched by the sight of a person who has been laid out, "their eyes, closed, at peace, very cold to the touch, I find that quite beautiful and incredibly moving …"

How do you visualise your final send off?
Do your friends or family spend time planning an elaborate funeral?
How do you feel about this?

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