Death — Italian Style

Grabbing grief by the balls.

Fiona Cameron Lister
10 min readAug 18, 2021


Image: Fiona Cameron Lister

In a dazzle of moves the funeral director closed the program on his computer, fiddled with his fly and leapt to his feet. We hovered at the doorway, not quite believing what we had seen.

Signore, ladies, good afternoon. Please, take a seat.”

I shot a glance at Judith. Yet rather than ricocheting out of the house of porn, we perched obediently on the worn velvet chairs in front of the desk, which bore the jaunty sign: “Life is Fashion!”

My husband had been dead for just 45 minutes.


We had moved to Italy from Britain in 1994, bought a ruined farmhouse in Umbria and restored it, then moved to an unknown part of Tuscany and done the same again. We’d worked as teachers then writers. Fifteen years older than me and a lifelong smoker, Alan’s health gradually began to deteriorate. The funny, clever man I had married became sullen and withdrawn, scared and depressed as a series of health events dominoed through his body.

Life over the past few years had become a soul-sucking routine: health crisis, call the ambulance, spend a few days in hospital, come out again. I was a terrible carer. I knew I should be loving and kind, but my simmering resentment and anger often made me snappy and bossy instead.



Fiona Cameron Lister

Experienced British writer/editor/mentor in Italy | MWC semi-finalist| Loves words, history, humour, unusual subjects| Contact: