The Corpse Project

The Corpse ProjectThe Corpse Project

Sophie Churchill is the founder of The Corpse Project, which explores how we can lay our bodies to rest in ways that help the living and the environment. A workshop this month may help plan your own ending.

Wanstead is a great place to live, with its community, wonderful green spaces, shops and transport links. It's also a good place to die, with excellent funeral directors like Compassionate Funerals – including their death cafés – and the City of London Cemetery and Crematorium.

The Corpse Project was set up to help us make the right decisions for us, for our dead bodies, as part of living well. We are glad to be visiting Wanstead Library this month as part of Dying Matters Week.

It's a good idea to think about your death every so often, so you can tell your nearest and dearest what you would like to happen to your body when the time comes. It takes some of the fear out of it and... it is really interesting!

The Corpse Project has involved many inspiring people. Muslim teenagers were loyal to their tradition of burial but could see that, for some people, cremation is the best option. Members of the transgender community were very concerned about their gender being protected after their death. Others were just intrigued about death traditions around the world and the options for them. The event this month is an opportunity to share what we have heard and learnt.

If you are interested in a 'green' funeral, does that mean a woodland burial? It is peaceful and often creates a beautiful environment. But what if you have to drive a long way to get there? Do trees like bodies? Some 75% of people are cremated in this country: what really happens to the body in these cases? Is it much less 'green' than burial and can we reduce the fossil fuels used in cremation? What actually are ashes, and do they feed the roses at the cemetery? What are the best ways of dealing with them? We found brilliant, caring people working in both burial and cremation services and have some answers to share to these questions.

Then, of course, there will be new ways to deal with the body in the future. A gentle technique is to dissolve the body in a lime solution, using less energy or land than cremation or burial. Or perhaps the gardeners among us would like to turn to compost and feed the earth? The workshop will update us on new ideas: they may seem strange now, but they are not as 'way out' as cremation seemed to the Victorians! Could we come to accept them in the next generation?

We will touch on the care and practicalities of the body after death and have plenty of time for discussion as well. Do come along and give some time to your ending and come away positive, peaceful and able to talk to friends and neighbours about this important and intriguing part of life.

The Corpse Project workshop will take place at Wanstead Library on 22 May from 7pm (free). For more information, visit

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