I will lie on a cold metal table

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.

Read more at Death Duties which weaves my involvement in the Chevra Kadisha, the Jewish Burial Society 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 legacy with friends and family.

Buoyed by positive feedback to my original talk ‘Six Feet Under’ about the Chevra, and which this work greatly expands, I hope to freely distribute this booklet as widely as possible. I would be very happy for you to pass this on to anyone you think would appreciate it. If you have any ideas about organisatons that might be able to use it as a teaching resource, such as a rabbinical school or hospital chaplaincy, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Listen to my talk – Six Feet Under – hosted by JDOV about serving on the Chevra Kadisha – unfortunately, I’ve had a lot of practice.