Created and developed by Ellie Harrison and Matthew Bellwood
Illustrations and design by Fergus Dunnett
Additional design by Amy Levene
The Crossing is a collection of illustrated resources, designed to help you think about, talk about and plan a funeral celebration. It might be a celebration for yourself or a loved one – or it might be for someone who you know through a professional relationship. It’s been designed to highlight the wide range of cultural perspectives and traditions about death and what follows that exist here in the U.K. and to offer an insight into the huge range of options that are available to people when they are thinking about how to deal with the end of life.
It is by no means a definitive collection of ideas and traditions. Death brings with it a set of questions that have no definite answers and the responses that we have to it as human creatures are infinitely various. What we do when someone dies depends on a wide range of variables. What were the beliefs and traditions subscribed to by the person who has died during their life? What are the beliefs and traditions of the people whose responsibility it is to deal with the aftermath of that person’s existence? How and where did their life end and what is the legacy and impact of that life on those left behind and, on a purely practical level, how much money is available to pay for a funeral ceremony or celebration?
In our culture, at this point in time, death is something that we are often reluctant to acknowledge and talking about it when the time comes is often very hard. We don’t always want to admit that our lives will end, or to consider the spiritual and material questions that death calls into being. That reluctance is perfectly understandable, but the questions still remain and at some point, they will need to be dealt with. We hope then that The Crossing might in some way begin to provide a platform to do that. Within the box is a printed booklet, which contains a series of questions – things which may or may not need to be thought about in the event of someone’s death. The box also contains a set of illustrated resources that offer potential answers and solutions to these questions. There are booklets, posters, pop-ups, fold-outs and links to online repositories of music, songs and readings. As you rummage through the contents, the booklet can be filled out as a record of the thoughts, ideas and wishes that come to light. We have also included a set of specially-drawn stickers, that can be used to illustrate the pages. None of the ideas presented in The Crossing are definitive of course – for each individual person, they are likely to change and develop over the course of time – but we hope that the project might offer a framework to discuss the possibilities. One way to see it would be as the basis for a conversation – a conversation about death and the hereafter. It might be a conversation that you wish to undertake alone or it might be something you would like to explore in the company of others. Either way, the aim is to generate a dialogue between those organising the funeral and the person for whom it is intended. After all, a funeral ceremony is just as much for the people who are left behind as for the person whose life it aims to celebrate. It’s a time for people to reflect upon the life of a person who is no longer there; an opportunity to think about the things that that person has done and to say goodbye and start the process of moving on without them. It is therefore essential that it reflects who that person was, but it’s also essential that it reflects the needs of the people who are tasked with living on in that person’s absence.
The Crossing then, is a starting point – a set of questions that may or may not require answers and a set of illustrations that may or may not suggest solutions. We present it simply as a tool designed to help discuss a difficult subject and whilst we recognise that it is one for which there are no easy answers, we sincerely hope that it might prove useful.
Ellie and Matthew
If you are interested in purchasing The Crossing please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org with your postal address.
The resource is £30 including postage and packaging.
The Crossing resource has blank booklets for you to fill in. You can print extra booklets from the PDF below.
Here is a collection of readings you might also find useful:
If you would like to find out more about any of the ideas, issues and possibilities raised by this project, the following websites are a good place to start:
Dead Good Guides www.deadgoodguides.com
Dying Matters www.dyingmatters.org
Good Funeral Guide www.goodfuneralguide.co.uk
Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief www.goodlifedeathgrief.org.uk
Home Funeral Network www.homefuneralnetwork.org.uk
Living Well Dying Well www.lwdwtraining.uk
National Council for Palliative Care www.ncpc.org.uk
Natural Death Centre www.naturaldeath.org.uk
Soul Midwives www.soulmidwives.co.uk
This project has been supported by: