The Ideal Death Show

We recently interviewed Charles the founder of the 'Ideal Death Show' & 'The Good Funeral Awards'. In this interview Charles provides an overview about the event and insight as to whether or not it is healthy for the general public to attend such a show. 


What’s your name and where do you come from?

Charles Cowling. I live in Redditch, the town made famous by Kevin Turvey.
Can you tell us a little bit about the Ideal Death Show and the inspiration for putting on such as event?
The Ideal Death Show began as a Six Feet Under Convention. It morphed into the Joy Of Death show but the title caused so much indignation we grudgingly changed it. We’re heavily into continuous brand reinvention and shapeshifting generally.
The Good Funeral Awards are just 3 years old. They’re huge fun, but the purpose is hugely serious. It’s where we get to say thank you to all the great people who work with the bereaved. There are more unsung heroes out there than most people would believe. The death industry employs some of the nicest people in the known universe.
Coffin Good Funeral Awards
Is the exhibition for the general public or just those who work within the end of life sector?
We are fully signed up to a we’re-all-in-it-together agenda because, let’s face it, none of us gets out of this alive. We deplore the disempowerment of the bereaved and the false specialism that has erected a rampart between the deathmongers and everyone else. We want to restore normality to what is, after all, the most normal thing anyone can do: die. We want to see their people rising to the occasion, not crumpling. We want to see them getting hands-on, not bystanding. We want to see them making meaning by what they do and what they say, not by what they spend. And when it’s all over, instead of feeling empty, we want them to feel knackered and proud. So yes, at this show the pros and the public mix and chat as fellow human beings facing the same fate. Death is nothing if not a leveller. Hence our two rules: no talking down and NO BLACK SUITS!
Is it morbid and healthy for the general public to spend time thinking about death?
Morbidity is a state of mind, not a condition brought on by the awareness of mortality. Brooding’s bad, obviously, but no one ever drove themselves mad by spending time getting their heads around something big and difficult. Denial is always an option, and it will unquestionably save the sanity of some. Death is crap, we make no bones about that. But for most people, paradoxically, awareness of death acts as a great stimulus and life-enhancer. 
Ideal Death Show - Final Fling
They say we’re living longer than ever these days. It may be truer to say that we’re taking longer than ever to die. We can go into this long goodbye mute and terrified or we can assert our autonomy. Old age is no place for sissies.
Is there room for creativity and innovation with the funeral (and death) sector?
Short answer, yes. Why? Because creativity promotes emotional health and asserts normality. Dying has become medicalised and funerals have become packaged. So there’s everything to be said for enriching the way we manage death, disposal and commemoration with ritual, observances, active love and, above all, participation. Everyone does things differently. That’s what we need to see more of.
What can people expect by attending?
People can expect to satisfy their curiosity and learn things that are useful. They’ll get straight answers to all their questions and they’ll be able to debate points of view. There’s no hush and awe at a gig like this. There’s lots of good fellowship, some tears, perhaps – good ones – and loads of laughter. There’s a whole new wave of progressive, thinking people working in funerals these days. They come to this event because it’s somewhat of a clan gathering and because it’s – well, a bit edgy.  
When will the Ideal Death Show and The Good Funeral Awards take place and where?
Come for the weekend, 5-7 September 2014, or just for the big day, Saturday 6th. We’re in Bournville, the model village built by the Cadbury’s in Birmingham. Access by road, rail and bus is excellent. Perhaps we should rename the show Death By Chocolate?

James Norris (DeadSocial’s CEO) will be speaking about “digital death” and our “digital legacies” at the Ideal Death Show. If you are planning to attend and interested in the seminar come along! If you cannot make seminar but would like to say “hello” please visit our stand in the exhibition hall.

More information about the Ideal Death Show can be found at:


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