When he became an undertaker, Rupert Callender undertook to deal with the dead for the sake of the living. This book is his brilliant, unforgettable story—the life and work of the world’s first punk undertaker—but it’s also about ordinary, everyday humanity and our capacity to face death with courage and compassion, to say goodbye to the people we love in our own way.
In becoming the world’s first “punk undertaker” and establishing the Green Funeral Company in Devon, UK, Ru Callender and his partner Claire challenged the stilted, structured world of the funeral industry—fusing what he had learned from his own deeply personal experiences with death with the surprising and profound answers and raw emotion he discovered in rave culture and ritual magick.
From his unresolved grief for his parents and his cultural ancestors to political and religious non-conformists, social outlaws, experimental pioneers, and acid-house culture, Ru Callender has taken to a “DIY” ethos to help people navigate grief. He has carried coffins across windswept beaches, sat in pubs with caskets on beer-stained tables, helped children fire flaming arrows into their father’s funeral pyre, turned occult rituals into performance art, and, with the band members of KLF, is building the People’s Pyramid of bony bricks in Liverpool.
What Remains? is a profound, deeply moving, and politically charged book that will change the way listeners think about life, death, and the all-important end-of-life experience.