A good death: Andrea Ucini illustrates how to die well
A new illustrated book, How to Die Well, teaches us how to practically and emotionally prepare for death
Death can be a difficult topic to discuss, and despite its inevitability we can be left feeling surprised or unprepared when confronted with it. A new book, How to Die Well, aims to change this by looking at the four stages of death, from ‘Before you Go’ and ‘Your Funeral’, to ‘Saying Goodbye’ and ‘Good Grief’.
The book, produced by life insurance company Royal London and creative agency Rankin, explores these processes through illustrations by Italian-born, Denmark-based artist, Andrea Ucini. Ucini’s understated style makes a poignant foil for the complexity of the subject matter, with his neat images drawing everyday scenes in simple linework. The muted colour palette and pure form gently subvert the mundane, with the prosaic nature of his portraits lending acceptance to death’s role in life.
In Saying Goodbye, a couple are divided by a fractured bridge. In Pets and Death, a dog rests behind his owner’s unworn coat and boots which dress an invisible profile. In Before You Go, a couple pause a bike ride to hold each other. Your Funeral depicts a solitary pianist returning to the stage for his final bow, Good Grief a woman embracing emptiness.
The illustrations are a complement to the book which, alongside practical advice from settling estates to writing a will and saying the final goodbyes, offers personal essays; including from photographer Rankin who reflects on his parents’ death. It looks into often stressful issues including palliative care, funeral poverty and assisted dying in a bid to open the conversation around death. §