Jade’s good death

Like many I have mocked reality TV star Jade Goody: an Essex girl notorious for engaging mouth before brain, who displays few if any recognisable talents. In the final weeks of her life, however, I am impressed with the way in which Goody is conducting herself.

This new-found respect* predates the terminal prognosis. Goody, who is only in her mid-twenties, has raised the profile of cervical cancer in Britain. This should encourage more younger women to take the issue seriously, and hopefully it will lead to a change in National Health Service policy concerning the age at which women are first invited for testing.

Goody has now been baptised, along with her sons Bobby and Freddy, in a ceremony conducted at London’s Royal Marsden Hospital. This event may have been an initiation into a cult of the Invisible Friend, but what is perhaps more significant is that a simple religious liturgy has been used to bring Goody’s family and friends together for a formal, final farewell.

My maternal grandmother died a few years back. Shortly following her terminal cancer diagnosis, Gran decided to spend her savings on a big family party in a restaurant. The reasoning was that if there was to be a wake in her honour, she might as well enjoy it too. Such rite-of-passage rituals, whether they be religious or secular, are community events for the benefit of guests more than the stars of the show. After all, the dead have no need for funerals.

* I’m not going soft, honest!