FinalFling.com, created by Barbara Chalmers, is the first website dedicated to end of life decisions that celebrates a wealth of choice and control and provides the tools to plan, seek advice and discuss the issues around death. The website is created so we can take those all important first steps to make sure we end our lives in the same purposeful way that we live them. I met with Barbara towards the end of 2011 and was fascinated by the idea of Final Fling and that this end of life website should be the brainchild of someone so clearly full of life added an extra flavour.
Barbara was born in 1960 and grew up on a farm in the South West of Scotland. She runs a communications consultancy, Plan B Collective and has provided strategic communication support for national and local government, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, El Sistema Project and the Scottish Wave of Change Cultural Olympiad project. In 2010 she led a national pathfinder Glow Co-create project funded by Creative Scotland and Learning & Teaching Scotland to create a digital artbank for the national schools intranet.
Barbara trained as an Executive Coach with Strathclyde Business School, studied Counselling Skills (COSCA), is a qualified life coach and trained as an independent celebrant. She is Vice Chair of the Board of The Arches, is a Director of the Board of Kinning Park arts and community complex and been an Adviser to Creative Scotland. She has two grown up children, lives in Glasgow with her partner and plays in a women’s samba band.
Speaking at the launch FinalFling.com Barbara said; “FinalFling.com is more than just an online funeral planner. We hope Final Fling will be to death what mumsnet is to birth – a place to come if you find yourself in new territory, unsure.”
“The UK is facing a care crisis. We have a growing and ageing population and shrinking budgets for health and care. We are heading into the golden years of the Baby Boomer generation, who like to be in control and want to do things differently. FinalFling.com offers a win-win solution. It’s a one-stop-shop for end of life planning.
“Government gets active citizens who take personal responsibility. Citizens get the power to make decisions, change their mind, influence their care. Government saves money on end of life care. Citizens get closer to having the death they want. And evidence shows this has a huge positive impact on grieving families.”
FinalFling’s mission is to encourage people to think ahead, talk openly, challenge the norm and take control of the plans for death and to help people make life and death decisions whilst valuing choice, control and difference.
FinalFling.com features practical, emotional, spiritual and creative support.
FinalFling.com sources a wide range of services. There are the more obvious: directories of funeral directors and celebrants; products and services – wicker coffins, motorbike hearses, ashes made into fireworks or diamonds, planes and boats for scattering ashes. There are the more esoteric: environmental artists and stone carvers who can create memorials; writers, painters, photographers and film-makers who can create portraits, biographies and capture stories to celebrate a life; and the less-known ‘soul midwives’ and ‘death doulas’ who provide end-of-life-companion services for the increasing number of people who live alone and ‘celebratory artists’ who can create meaningful rituals for a ceremony, funeral, end of life celebration or memorial:
“Religion, authority and tradition may have lost their hold in our increasingly secular society but we still have the need for spiritual and emotional support,” explained Barbara.
“We have associate artists who can help create what you might call ‘rites of passage’ events that mark life’s milestones. We have end of life companions to support someone on their final journey. We can point to Humanists, independent celebrants, ceremony planners and creative artists who can help them find the balance between sombre and celebratory to create those rich rituals that help healing after a loss.
“Ultimately, FinalFling.com will help people get the death they want – and evidence shows that if we get the death we want, it’s easier for family and friends to cope with the loss. The starting point is thinking, talking and recording your wishes. That’s what we’re here for.”