Sunday, 15 April 2012

A Worrying Discovery

The dead, I discover, no longer wear shrouds. Probably everyone knows this, but I didn't, and I find the news strangely disturbing. A while ago, I was at the funeral of a school-gate friend (where I discovered too late that mourners no longer wear black). It hurts more to think of her laid out in her casket in her familiar plaid skirt and knee boots, rather than transfigured in white linen.

Later a dismaying notion strikes me. I struggle to decide what to wear to the office, to church and for our occasional wild nights at Bella Pasta. Now I must ready a costume for the Last Journey. Just in case. I do not wish the Vicar to have a hand in this: I would spend Eternity in a boiled wool cardie.

And so I ask the church sideswoman whether tweed or tulle would be best. She says greens are nice. We discuss my wardrobe and ponder my Boden notch-neck-knit dress with my patent Mary Janes. These don't get out much because they torment my left bunion. The sideswoman says that, under the circumstances, that needn't concern me.

She starts to worry about her own sartorial destiny and I suggest stripes. Briefly we feel satisfied that our fate is safely ordered. But, when I next climb into the notch-neck-knit dress, I shiver.

Death, ordinarily, is an implausible notion negated by the vital business of child-rearing and Boden catalogues. But when it's clad in my best wool day-wear it is ominously real. The sideswoman suggests a gap in the market for a posthumous fashion advisory service, but I have lost my nerve. I'm going to sleuth online for a shroudmaker.

22 comments:

  1. I remember sitting with my mother and the funeral director discussing this last year when my father died. We couldn't decide on what he should wear and, quite frankly, Mum didn't feel comfortable with the idea of someone having to tussle with getting arms in sleeves. We opted for a shroud. My uncle now wears my dad's shirts and looks splendid in them.

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    1. So sorry to hear that you lost your father. I suppose it doesn't occur to most of us that we'll have to wrestle this sartorial problem. Much easier in the days of enveloping white cotton.

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  2. I remember my Mum agonising over this when her Father died. It does seem terribly odd. A shroud seems more fitting somehow.
    Though the sideswoman may be right about a gap in the market. What would you call it though? Heavenly togs? Dead stylish? ;)

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  3. My thoughts of post-death self-image hinge on which photos I'd want sent to the press if/when I'm run over/murdered/canonised. But usually it ends up with Mrs Mills & Boon saying 'I'll send that one' when she sees one of the all-too-frequent snaps of me gurning.

    I'm all for shrouds, myself. If I were to be buried in my own clothes, I'd want them to be my favourites. But I'd also like to think that, because they are my favourites, my devastaed family will want to hang to them as mementos. It's a circle that cannot be squared.

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    1. I believe newspapers prefer the last picture ever taken. In which case it will have to be that one of you that I took dangling like an orang-utan from that tree last week.

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  4. I can so clearly remember sitting at my grandfather's funeral, sobbing as the coffin was taken to the front of the church, and thinking, completely out of the blue, "What's he wearing?". Later, at the crematorium, my mother told me he had asked to wear his old jock strap from the days when he used to be a keen runner. I love him for that.

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    1. What? Just a jock strap? Isn't that like a cod piece? How marvellous. In fact this whole revelation abut shrouds came about when the Vicar gave the last rites to san elderly man in just a vest (the elderly man, not the vicar). I really really hope I don't die in a vest.

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  5. I really think you don't have any need to worry about this. Your daughter will finally have her day and dress you as she sees fit. I wonder what the "in fashion" will be when you have to be laid to rest?!!!!

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    1. You devil! I will not meet my Maker in leopard print!

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    2. you have to leave instructions that the coffin has to be open!

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  6. Gosh I had never thought about this angle. Well as long as I'm worn in my Uggs then I shall be a happy, but stiff, dead person.

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    1. Uggs shuld make eternity quite snug, but they will date you, you know, should they excavate you in a century or so's time!

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  7. I have pondered doing a similar post. Two years ago I attended a funeral for my 80+ year old aunt, who had been a stay-at-home mother her entire life. She was buried in a suit with a scarf--it so atrocious and so uncharacteristic of her sweet personality in life.

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    1. I'm sure the choice f clothes is more important for the relatives than the deceased since they reflect the personality as much as the readings and hymns are chosen to do. But most of us never give it a thought. I just assumed I'd be enveloped in white cotton.

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  8. Fascinating topic. I actually see this fashion question from a more practical angle. The limbs of the dead are not bendable, making for awkward dressing in fashion forward outfits. While I like the idea of shrouds, they seem a bit outdated. At this point I'ld like to be outfitted for my last journey in one of my comfy flowing caftans.

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    1. A caftan is a really super idea. You could start a fashion line. But for me - my flannel dressing gown would be nice.

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  9. I think us Jews still use shrouds. I like the idea of something comfy rather than having to spend eternity sucking in my tummy muscles. And shoes? it sounds as appealing as wearing shoes in bed.

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    1. I know. I've been wondering about my furry slippers....

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