A sheet will cover my still, naked body. It’s a body that no-one, other than my husband, has ever seen before. It will be very quiet in the room. The holy women of the Chevra Kadisha, the burial society, will wash their hands, say a special blessing and put on two sets of latex gloves. No words, other than brief instructions, will be said. And so, will begin, the preparations for my burial.
Death Duties weaves my involvement in the Chevra Kadisha with the personal trauma of mourning close family members and my own brush with death. Corona’s impact on the rituals of preparing the dead and reshaping mourning rites is discussed, and the challenges of confronting ‘death’s housework’ are highlighted. Intensely personal and refreshingly pragmatic, I hope that Death Duties will spark important, yet difficult conversations about one’s death and the legacy we leave our family and friends.
Death Duties evolved out of my JDOV talk in 2015 – a lot has happened since then.