Charles Cowling



If you came to last year’s Good Funeral Awards weekend, you will remember Clarissa Tan. She was the journalist from the Spectator magazine. She had breast cancer. The piece she wrote afterwards inspired the name of this year’s get-together in Bournville: the Ideal Death Show.

Clarissa has died of breast cancer aged 42. 

‘I am a reporter,’ I say. ‘I’ve come to cover this event. But don’t worry, I won’t report what you share in this yurt. Also, I have cancer. I have been in treatment for one year, but now the treatment is over. I take one day at a time.’

There is silence, then hugs. I thought I would cry, but I don’t. Instead, I feel acceptance and a strange kernel of satisfaction.

I arrived expecting a weekend of black comedy. This is what I find, but there’s something else — a sincerity and straightforwardness that takes me by surprise.

It is not at all a fashionable point of view, but I believe in God — and a good one, at that. The belief fills me with healing, wonderful hope. It is the hope not that I will live. It is the hope that I am loved.

I realise that although I am frightened of dying, there’s a also a tiny part of me that’s always been scared of living. The finality of death is hard. The uncertainties of life can be harder.

6 thoughts on “Clarissa Tan

  1. Charles Cowling
    Charles Cowling

    Clarissa Tan’s funeral arrangements are as follows:

    On: Friday, 11th April 2014
    Time: 3pm
    Place: St Matthias Church, Church Road, Richmond, TW10 6LS, UK

    Charles Cowling
  2. Charles Cowling

    A sad loss of a good person and good writer.

    Charles Cowling
  3. Charles Cowling

    There’s a fine and touching tribute to Clarissa by Fraser Nelson, editor of the Spectator, here:

    The six most-read articles on the Spectator website were written by Clarissa. One of them is her account of last year’s Good Funeral Awards –

    Charles Cowling
  4. Charles Cowling
    A Celeb

    ‘It is the hope not that I will live. It is the hope that I am loved.’
    Very powerful words from Clarissa. Thank you for sharing this Charles.

    Charles Cowling
  5. Charles Cowling
    Carolyn Lo

    Hi, I am Clarissa’s niece from Malaysia. Thank you for sharing this tribute. However, I would like to clarify that my aunt, Clarissa passed away from colon cancer and not breast cancer. Thank you once again for remembering her.

    Charles Cowling
    1. Charles Cowling

      Thank you, Carolyn. We send you our condolences.

      Charles Cowling

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>