Dead Good is a really interesting documentary about the movement in the UK away from traditional funeral directors and services towards more tailored and open ways of working with the bereaved.
For most of us I think, after a loved one dies, a doctor comes to pronounce the death, followed by a funeral director. The deceased is then spirited away, not to be seen again until their funeral, or perhaps the wake the night before. In closed casket funerals, you may never see them again at all.
The documentary follows Arka funeral service in Brighton and their choice work in a more open and engaged way with the bereaved. Relatives are able to come down to view the body, wash their loved one, dress them themselves. In every way, they are allowed to take part in the preparation of their loved one for burial. One woman even attends the workshop where her mother’s coffin is being made and helps make part of it.
The women who run Arka want to empower relatives more, make people aware they have both the option and the right to be in control of this process.
The film itself is neither sad nor judgmental, simply an attempt to open up dialogue on the subject. In places I found the camera work and music choices a bit clumsy, but that’s a small criticism of a director’s first full-length feature. Everything involving the relatives and the deceased themselves is tastefully, respectfully and sensitively done.
I just came away from this with so much I wanted to talk about.