Art of Dying Art of Dying_Volume III_joomag - Page 19
the funeral. I’d been there several times before, either to enjoy a cup of tea with
Jon in his garden or to discuss matters related to Death Cafe. Standing outside
his house on the street in Hackney preparing to go in, we took a deep breath
and knocked at the door.
It was like Jon was there, only he wasn’t. He was there in his children’s faces,
his sister’s eyes, his mum’s eyes features and his lovely wife Donna, who he had
talked about with such pride whenever I saw him.
“What will be the role of the funeral director?” Jon’s step-dad asked, as we all
sat around the kitchen table discussing the funeral.
“To be as unobtrusive as possible,” Alistair replied. “I’m here to facilitate you
doing whatever you need to do.” I nodded at him. He was the perfect choice of
funeral director - gentle, supportive and discreet.
Jon's funeral took place in the beautiful setting of the Jamyang Buddhist
Centre in London on Thursday 6th July. Jon had managed the centre from 2000
to 2002 and had studied under Geshe Tashi, the centre's resident teacher. It
had been Jon's dream to hold funerals at the centre; he’d been busy putting
together detailed plans for how that might work. With an irony he would have
appreciated, it was the plans he’d put together that formed the foundation of his
Jon arrived at the centre in an electric eco-hearse made by Brahms - a Nissan
Leaf which had been converted into a hearse and was on its first ever outing as a
vehicle available for hire for funerals.
He was carried into the centre by his friends and colleagues from the funeral
profession and the Death Cafe community. Jon's rainbow willow coffin (from
Ecoffins) stayed in the main temple space whilst everyone drank tea and ate
homemade cake from Jamyang's beautiful cafe in the sunlit gardens, preparing
for the funeral ceremony to take place.
Jon's funeral took place in Jamyang's main temple space, a converted
courthouse. The ceremony was led by Geshe Tashi, who paid tribute to his
is a progressive funeral
director and the founder
of Poetic Endings – a
modern funeral service
creating funerals of style
and substance, relevance
and meaning in the UK.
She's also the director of
Life. Death. Whatever. - an
award-winning festival and
community that exists to
change the dialogue around
death and dying. In 2017,
Louise won a Death Oscar at
the Good Funeral Awards.
student and friend of many years. Jon's wife, mother, father, step-father, sister,
brother and children all paid tribute to Jon with moving speeches.
After the funeral, everyone travelled to Jon's local pub, the Chesham
Arms, on his street in Hackney to continue singing, playing music and sharing
tributes. Jon had been part of a community initiative to save the pub from being
taken over by property developers and he lived just a few doors away.
Jon was cremated the following day at the City of London Crematorium.
Jon's funeral was beautiful, touching and personal. It reflected how important
Jon had been to so many different communities. All of his family, including his
two children, were involved in every part of the funeral from choosing his coffin
to being part of the ceremony on the day. It was every bit as inspired, inspiring
and memorable as Jon himself.
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