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.