It’s the last taboo. We don’t want to talk about death. But we have gathered five radical experts who do. Tonight’s speakers will answer the questions we hardly dare to ask: what is it like to face death, what does it look like, how can we help our loved ones and how best do we face it ourselves?
Psychotherapist Julia Samuel is the UK’s leading grief expert and has spent the last twenty-five years working with bereaved families. She is the author of best selling Grief Works.
Author and broadcaster Virginia Ironside is the Idler magazine’s agony aunt. Her book ‘You’ll Get Over It’: The Rage of Bereavement has been a bestseller for twenty years. Virginia will be introducing and chairing the evening.
Ru and Claire Callender are radical undertakers based in Devon with a green and punk attitude that challenges the corporate undertaking business. They have been described by the Good Funeral Guide as “Without a doubt the best Undertakers of all time by a country mile!”
Louise Winter is founder of modern funeral service Poetic Endings based in West London – which has also been described by the Good Funeral Guide in superlative terms as “Possibly one of the most creative and insightful people involved with funerals anywhere in the world.”
More about the speakers:
Julia Samuel will talk personally about what led her into this work. She will discuss what she has learnt from the hundreds of families she has supported in the last twenty-five years – giving us both an understanding of what happens when we grieve and how we can best support ourselves. She will also talk about the devastating tragedy at Grenfell Tower whose bereaved families she has been helping over the last year. Julia is very interested to interact with the audience as she believes we are all experts on our own loss. Please come armed with your own questions for her.
Julia worked for twenty-two years with the NHS at St Mary’s Paddington where she pioneered the role of maternity and paediatric counsellor. She is Founder Patron of Child Bereavement UK where she continues to play a central role, and she continues to practise privately. Grief Works is Julia’s first book. In it she shows us through vivid case studies that when we face our fears – the death of someone we love, our own death, or being with bereaved friends – we are paradoxically better able to cope with them. The paperback will be published in March and we’ll be selling it on the evening. Julia will be signing books at the end of the talk. Find out more at www.griefworks.co.uk.
Louise Winter is at the forefront of creating funerals relevant to today and tomorrow. She will discuss her frustration with the funeral profession, and how that led to creating Poetic Endings, and the bold moves she’d made along the way.
Louise is also the director of Life. Death. Whatever. – an award festival and community that exists to change the dialogue around death and dying. In 2017, Louise won a Death Oscar at the Good Funeral Awards. She’s been featured in publications around the world, including Vice, the BBC, the Telegraph and the Guardian, and did a TEDx talk at King’s College London inspired by the tattoo on her ex boyfriend’s arm.
Rupert and Claire Callendar have been self taught, and self proclaimed “radical undertakers” for 19 years, specialising in funerals that are everything the mainstream isn’t: embodied, participatory, stripped of the faux Victoriana trappings and euphemisms that are the hallmark of the corporate funeral.
They have been featured in print and television media, including Vice and the BBC, have done a TED X talk entitled “Death, grief, ritual and Radical funerals”, and in a recent move that has surprised even them, they have formed an undertaking partnership with former KLF and Justified Ancients of Mu Mu duo, Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond, to create a pyramid of bricks in each of which a portion of human cremated bones has been fired. They call this process MuMufication.
“Expect nothing and everything,” Ru says. Come to the Idler Death event and you’ll find out why.