Credo: Adeline O'Keeffe

Assistant director, The Natural Death Centre, 48
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The Independent Online

I believe...

The future of funerals lies in natural burial grounds. You are returned to the ground in a biodegradable coffin and a tree is planted next to you. It appeals to those who are non-religious and want something simple.

Many people want funerals to be more personalised, reflecting the person who died, rather than following a set format.

People find it empowering to arrange their own funerals the way they want. Someone called recently asking where they could buy a flat-pack Ecopod [coffins made of recycled paper] so their friends and family could write their messages on it and they could store away under their bed until it was needed.

I've always been interested in death. I did an MA in death and society that taught me the importance of research and how to talk to people without upsetting them.

My Irish background has formed my attitude to death. Death is part of life in Ireland. The first thing people turn to in a newspaper is the obituary section; they are also read out over the radio.

Death has become more remote to us as advances in healthcare mean more people die in hospitals and not at home. We are less accepting of death than 50 years ago.

There is not enough time today to stop and think about death. We are allowed a bit of time off work when a family member dies, but it's not enough.

Teenagers and adults mourn differently. Adults tend to steep themselves in grief, whereas young people often channel it into campaigning for awareness of the cause of death, from gun crime to cancer.

If I was knocked over by a car tomorrow, I'd be buried above my gran in Ealing. If I live to 100, I'd want to be in a natural burial ground in Donegal. There aren't any there yet, but it's so rural, it'd be perfect.

T he London Green Funeral Exhibition, organised by The Natural Death Centre, will be at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1 on 19 April (tel: 0871 288 2098, www.naturaldeath.org.uk)

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