Like most people, I remember my first dead body. It was that of a friend, a man who had lived a full life, touched others’ lives, been touched, been a seeker and finder and a guide for some. He was also a regular guy who loved to laugh and to drink and eat cheese sandwiches. When my friend died, his friends and family got to sit with his body. This doesn’t happen often these days, in Britain at least, and it really helped us, the living, say goodbye.

The key point I take from a recent talk by cere­monial undertakers and sextons Claire and Rupert Callender is that “Funerals are for the living.” ...


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