Joan Bakewell has been reading extracts from her book, ‘Stop the Clocks’ on Radio 4’s Book of the Week. It is interesting, not least because she reflects that now in her 80s, she cannot but think of her own approaching death.
“You are entering the bereavement bubble” she says, as she and her generation, once happily inhabiting the wedding bubble, parade across the obituary pages. She admits to distressing dreams and to thinking frequently of death. How carefree and upbeat it must have been, she wonders, NOT to think about death, now that hope and expectations are dwindling.
A slump into despair seems inevitable, though Bakewell says she has learned to relish the prospect of another day, appreciating each extension of time.
She also notes how much freer we now are as a society when dealing with death, remembering the strict rituals and formalities of death in her youth. Indeed, as her generation fades, so too does the adherence to prescribed order.
Weddings are evolving into a personal celebration reflecting the characters of those making their promises: you have only to look at the plethora of wedding organisers and photographers online to glimpse just how far from prescribed religious ceremony we have come in so few years.
So, too, with funerals. Those in their eighties today are beginning to explore the variety of rituals and celebrations which can honour the dead whilst satisfying the emotional need for individuality. As these thoughts occur to a younger generation, conscious that not all of us reach our eighties, the liberation of the funeral business should flourish.
The Guardian’s review Stop the Clocks
Image by Sukey Parnell for The Guardian