In November 2022 we held the second of our informal Death over Drinks events at the Anjuna Lounge in Stirchley. This time we were invited to think about our funeral preferences and what we need to do to prepare for our own deaths. Sustained by tasty food and good company our lively discussion was led with sensitivity and good humour by Birmingham-based Celebrant Kath Day.

It was a surprise to many of us that as long as a death is verified and registered there are very few restrictions on our choices. You don’t have to have flowers or a black hearse and embalming is only needed in very few circumstances. A funeral or celebration (if you are having one) can take place pretty much anywhere – church, village hall, your own home – and might include something written by yourself as much as words, songs and tributes by others. The options for your remains currently include environmentally friendly natural burial and donating a body to science as well as cremation or burial, and for the future, human composting is on its way.

One of the main questions we grappled with is ‘Who are our plans for?’, as one participant noted:

“There was lots of information and lots to think about, especially the balance between what I’m interested in and what the people who are left behind might benefit from – for example, just having a knees-up as opposed to having a ceremony. Working all that out is the issue.”

By the end of the session we all agreed with the participant who concluded that far from being morbid, making plans ‘is just part of life’s housekeeping’.

Our next Death over Drinks event will look at the legal side of making plans – keep an eye out for details in our next newsletter.