Review of Erica Buist’s talk on death festivals

Simon Nightingale writes: Last Thursday we had a good turnout for Shropshire Humanists AGM, but the highlight of the evening was a fascinating talk by Erica Buist, a freelance reporter for the Guardian, Medium, BBC etc. She started with a moving account of the distress she experienced after the awful circumstances of her father-in-law’s death and the subsequent growing realisation that she, like most of us in the West, was quite unprepared to cope with death. She discussed the reasons for this, for example, that in all children’s stories, cartoons and films the good people live “happily ever after” and it’s the only the bad guys that die. Moreover, sometimes the good are effectively brought back to life by Prince Charming’s kiss or clapping for Tinkerbell and so on.
Erica went on to discuss the different ways people view death in other parts of the world. In particular, she has visited seven death festivals. Initially her account seemed a little shocking, but when you understood what was going on in the minds of those celebrating at these festivals, it became very moving.
Erica has written a book about all this, which can be bought online (not via Amazon, I’m pleased to say).

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