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It was a sunny Thursday in August and we found ourselves on a sandy beach in Birmingham with a coffin and a funeral jukebox, (I’ll leave you to decide which of those notions is the strangest) and it was all thanks to the Northfield Community Partnership (NCP) and their wonderful team from the Northfield Neighbourhood Network Scheme (NNS).

The NCP team have set up and run the beach for a couple of years, but this year, with the launch of their NNS team they decided to include a Compassionate Community Marquee at the Beach and invited A Natural Undertaking along to encourage conversation and greater awareness of choices available when someone dies.

Naturally, we wanted to ensure that everyone passing by felt comfortable and included – this was after all a family event with people of all ages who would be attending. So, being a creative bunch we decided to bring a little bit of jollity to the proceedings and produced a ‘funeral jukebox’ and invited people to tell us what their top funeral songs might be.

As people handed them to us we stuck them on the juke box and kept moving them up through the day so that everyone could see the songs that were being chosen.

We’re not convinced that asking people to choose their funeral songs on a sunny day at a beach provides a serious sample of peoples’ actual song choices (we’ve never been asked to play ‘Baby Shark’ for example at a funeral before …) but we’re hoping that by including it in a day like this, even a simple conversation about a funeral song can help normalise conversations about death and dying.

(you can see some examples of what people chose here as their top funeral song choices)

During the day we also wanted to include children in the conversation so we provided a craft table and some coffin templates. With the promise of a coffin sticker and some chocolate, the children came up with some fabulous designs throughout the day – you can see what they produced in our online gallery in our community area.

And of course we also had some good conversations with people about their funeral options, and talked to people about making sure that their friends and family are aware of their wishes ahead of time.

We also gave away plenty of our ‘Funeral Wishes’ templates to help people share their wishes with others.

Feel free to download our wishes template here – you can either type directly into it, or print off and write them in.

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