Dr Airdre Grant
Dr Airdre Grant

A solemn death and a good wake please

DEATH is such a fascinating thing to think about.

Have you ever had a long extended fantasy about your funeral, what you would like to happen, how you would like to be remembered, things like the ceremony, who you would want to come, who you would ban, the music, the food, the decorations ...all that good stuff? It's worth consideration. It's definitely going to happen and you're going to be there so you might as well have a say about it.

I have been to events called 'celebration of life' where the music is upbeat, the tone bright, the praise extravagant and the word death is simply not mentioned. It's as if the person has stepped out of the room for a while, which in a sense I suppose they have.

But that's not me. Thinking about my funeral, I prefer a solemn occasion, with the swelling music of powerful emotional songs, a decorated cardboard coffin up the front, a frank acknowledgment that I'm dead. No power point display either (I'm allergic to them). Perhaps don't say I was a 'bringer of light' (please no) or I had a 'good innings' as I have never played anything more than backyard cricket badly and with great hilarity.

And rather than people say a range of flattering things, I prefer a truthful tale, so I have asked my children to say things like: I loved my mum but she could be really annoying. She was awful at doing the dishes. She thought she was hilarious but sometimes hung onto the joke too long. She hated being interrupted when she was watching Neighbours soap opera on telly ... you get the gist.

Then after everyone has had a bloody good cry, bring on lashings of food, cups of tea, plenty of drink in a cosy place to sit and tell stories and have lots of laughs. I want everyone to have great time and thoroughly enjoy themselves. Boom Boom!

In the village of Kyleakin on Skye I saw a funeral for a local fisherman. Everyone in the village went. The whole place closed down and loads of people, dressed in black and in kilts, stood outside the whitewashed kirk (church). The coffin, covered in white flowers, was carried solemnly down the street and the crowd walked behind.

It was a beautiful, sombre and moving occasion, followed by an uproarious wake with music, food, drink and dancing. Now that's a funeral.


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