We spoke to celebrants and Coffin Club founders Kate & Kate to learn all about why they think death is still a taboo subject and how Coffin Club helps people have those crucial conversations and maybe even decorate their own coffins in the process!
What was the inspiration behind Coffin Club? How did you come up with such a genius idea?
When we started out as Kate and Kate Celebrants we quickly became aware that the service that we were offering, was not actually the kind of end of life celebration we would want for ourselves or our loved ones. We were looking for a way to promote different ways of doing death and Coffin Club seemed the perfect platform.
However, it wasn’t really our idea! Coffin Club was first run in New Zealand and we saw an article in the Guardian and thought it was a fantastic idea. We got in touch with the Kiwis and asked if it would be OK to get some info off them and if they’d be cool with us setting up a UK version. They said ‘Yes!’ and were very very very helpful!
We know we all die in the end...so who is Coffin Club for? Everyone? Yes! Initially, we promoted Coffin Club as being for people who are elderly, terminally ill, or those that care for those people. However, as Coffin Club evolved, it became apparent, that people that didn’t fall into those categories were keen to take part too.
Why do you think death is still such a taboo subject?
The British are a funny lot. We think if you talk about sex you’ll get pregnant and if you talk about death you’ll die. We talk about death all the time and we’re still alive and kicking!
What are the advantages of Coffin Club? What does it offer to members?
Coffin Club is free for the funeral-planning aspect! There is a cost involved if you want to decorate a coffin, but our coffins are significantly less expensive than those available through a Funeral Director.
Coffin Club is a safe space to talk about and plan your end of life celebration. It’s a fantastic resource as we have industry professionals come and talk to our clubbers and help them work out what they can and can’t do and what it will cost.
Alongside that is, of course, the coffin! We offer two choices a cardboard coffin and a flat-packed wooden coffin (IKEA style but from a Dutch supplier). The coffin provides a wonderful creative outlet and a chance to think about your life and the things that should be featured on your box. It’s a springboard for getting people to talk about their end of life celebration and then go home and share those thoughts with their nearest and dearest.
We love your motto “What happens at Coffin Club, stays at Coffin Club,” but we are so intrigued...what do you guys do at Coffin Club? What sort of activities do you get up to?
Oooo, nothing very controversial! It’s more that people really open up at Coffin Club and we want them to know that they’re safe to do so and that everything is said in confidence. We quickly discovered that Coffin Club provides a real platform for sharing quite intimate thoughts and feelings as thinking about the end of your life obviously brings things into sharp focus.
We’ve heard you’ve hosted some amazing guest speakers at Coffin Club - who was the most memorable?
To be honest they’re all great (we would say that, wouldn’t we?!). It’s a real smorgasbord and the point is that each speaker brings something new and then our Clubbers can pick and choose what’s useful to them.
The Manager of our local cemetery and crem is a wealth of factual information, independent funeral directors can flag up all the different things they can help with, the speaker from our nearest natural burial ground was lovely and her passion shone through… and the fact that you had a whole day rather than a half-hour slot was a revelation.
What sort of funeral would you like? How do you want the end of your life to be celebrated?
Oh Lord! We change our minds all the time! Kate D knows she wants some show tunes and there are going to be jazz hands in there – if Kate D goes first, Kate T will have to suffer songs from Moulin Rouge, which Kate D loves and Kate T hates!!!
Kate D is having everyone exit to the song Love Shack, she’s also got local band Soul Xpress lined up, because she’s danced with them for years. She wants to go direct to crem, she doesn’t want anyone there and then she’ll have her big shin-dig elsewhere (not sure where yet) she wants people to stand up and tell funny stories about her, no boring chronological story of her life…Kate T literally cannot make up her mind.
Who would play you in a movie about your life?
Kate T (blonde Kate) will have Toni Collette who, I’m sure, would be honoured. Kate D (red head) will have Kevin Bacon. Or, at a push, we’ll settle for Ant and Dec!
If you’re interested in Kate & Kate’s Coffin Club, why not add them to your huunuu funeral plan? Haven’t made a plan with huunuu yet? Head to our sign up page and get on it - here you’ll find Kate & Kate’s wonderful services, as well as hundreds of other vendors to help personalise your send-off.