Published
13 February 2024

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Sleep easy after writing your own Death Book

Entrepreneur creates ‘deathmin’ beating book and heated facemask to help us relax in different ways

Harriet Inglis is a woman determined to help us all feel more relaxed about life and about death. So much so, that she’s created two totally different products designed with those laudable twin aims in mind. One, a facemask, to mellow your face and eyes, the other, a ‘deathmin’ organiser to give you and your loved ones peace of mind about when you die.

Having experienced the death of both her mother and father by the age of 22, neither of them having left any sort of useful instructions or expression of their wishes, Harriet decided early on that she’d tackle death and dying head-on in a matter-of-fact way.

Central to that is speaking openly and honestly with her four children aged 13-20 as well as her wider family and friends.

“I’m not frightened of dying and these conversations don’t need to be sad,” Harriet says.

She launched Spacemasks, the jasmine scented, heated eye patches, in 2017 and their success, including raising thousands for the Royal Marsden, has given Harriet a platform via her 82,000 followers on Instagram to talk about death and dying.

“During lockdown I started giving people daily tasks to do. It was random stuff, like tidying your sock drawer. Then one day I told my followers to write down their choice of hymns and readings for their funerals and it just blew up.

“Everyone said they were really grateful that I was talking about something like this. And that got me thinking that there would be demand for a book.”

The Death Book says on its bright orange cover: Organise the aftermath to perfection. Make sure your nearest and dearest know exactly what’s what following your demise.

That’s exactly what Harriet wishes her parents had done 30 years ago. Now, she’s helping thousands of people put their minds at rest.

“When someone dies, particularly unexpectedly, people will be in such horrible shock that talking about the practical things is the last thing you want to be doing, so to have it all written down makes them feel better and they can just put it in a drawer and forget about it,” she adds.

“The worst thing would be to arrange someone’s funeral and to mess it up or to feel like you hadn’t done what they would have liked.”

While absolutely providing an aide memoire for people to leave precise funeral instructions, The Death Book also encourages the writer to detail all sorts of crucial information, including where they’ve left their will, bank account and social media logins, important details about pets and anything else that matters to them and will make life easier for those they leave behind.

“I know of people who have bought the Death Book for the family and organised a party and they’ve written their Death Books together, while sharing a bottle of wine. I think that’s a great idea.”

Harriet, who lives in Blackheath, is the first to admit that it was only recently that she came to understand the truth about hospices.

“I had a friend who died in St Christopher’s last year, but until then I used to imagine they were depressing, horrible places where you go to die. I now know that they are the most marvellous places offering loads of therapies and nothing like sterile hospitals.”

St Christopher’s recently took delivery of a batch of Spacemasks from Harriet and she’s keen to support the hospice’s efforts to engage people in conversations about death and dying using the Death Book.

What about plans for her own funeral?

Harriet reveals two details about what she’d like, when the time comes. Firstly, all the guests should wear something purple, as a nod to her love of the singer Prince and secondly, after her grandparents vetoed it at her wedding, she fully expects a trumpeter to play at her funeral.

If you’d like to help a loved one spare you the dreaded ‘deathmin’ or feel ready to start recording wishes and vital information, you can buy your copy of The Death Book here.

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