An increase in death literacy, and the impact of Covid-19, are accelerating changes to our grieving ceremonials, and letting in more light

There was never any question that Caitlin Wilks and her partner Joe Sassone would want to avoid a “McFuneral”. That’s the nickname sometimes given to the sombre, straight-out-of-a-brochure service offered by one of the two major corporations that hold around a third of the market share of Australia’s funeral industry. While Sassone – who had acute leukaemia – was joking when he suggested he be stuffed and holding a tray of drinks at his memorial, he still entertained unconventional ideas, like having the service at a brewery.

Sassone died in Melbourne in June 2020. This made it even more important for the couple to plan something with personal significance – his friends and family hadn’t been able to visit him in hospital, due to Covid-19 restrictions.

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