The way we organise our deaths offers insight into the meanings and significances we attribute to life. The sidelining of organised religion has allowed Australians to voice our own ideas about the muddles of existence through the choice of music for funerals. The regularity with which ‘I did it my way’ is heard at wakes is a reminder of how much more pertinent that song is for individuality than are newspaper columns by Bettina Arndt or Hugh Mackay, still less from Andrea Dworkin or the late Christopher Lasch.
While everyday life in this era of fast capitalism allows less time than ever for reflections upon the meanings of life or significances of death, those elements persist in practice where a desire for progeny is the most usual expression of the wish to live beyond ourselves. Decisions to join a union, to plant a lawn or to sunbake are other indicators of how Australians define the good life.