Illustrator Andrea Ucini is behind the illustrations for a beautifully designed new book on "dying well". Created by Royal London and creative agency, RANKIN, it hopes to equip people with the tools they need to talk openly and honestly about death and help prepare themselves and their loved ones for the inevitable.
Featuring the soft-textured, often minimalist artworks that play with light and shadow – something the Italian, Denmark-based artist is renowned for – How To Die Well is part of a campaign by the mutual life insurance, pension and investment company and provides information and support on subjects ranging from end-of-life planning, settling estates and arranging a funeral, to saying goodbye to loved ones, coming to terms with the final farewell and coping with grief.
The book contains contributions from authors Eimear McBride and Flora Baker, journalists Rhik Sammader, Kevin Toolis and Amita Joshi, and musician Ben Buddy Slack, as well as Royal London CEO Barry O'Dwyer, plus leaders in the fields of palliative care, funeral poverty, and assisted dying.
It also features an essay by photographer and filmmaker Rankin on his own personal experience with death, including losing his parents 15 years ago. "Losing someone you love is a devastating experience, and we currently make it worse for ourselves by putting off important conversations until the last minute – or until it's too late," says Rankin.
"How to Die Well is born out of a conviction that dying well can be a fundamental part of living well if we can just overcome our reluctance to talk about it. We hope the book helps as many individuals as possible, and also that it might lead to wider changes for the better. For example, tackling funeral poverty and arriving at a better understanding of the impact of grief on mental health."
How to Die Well will be available via libraries and free to access online. Copies will also be provided by Royal London to key charities and organisations working with diverse communities in the UK and Ireland in the field of death, end-of-life planning, grief and loss, and made available to financial advisers to share with their clients.
The campaign was informed by a survey that revealed that 87% of people in the UK agreed if we felt more comfortable discussing death it would be easier to have our end-of-life wishes met.