I attended a funeral for a cousin whose death came too early. She’d beaten breast cancer, twice, but years of smoking and living around heavy smokers finally took its toll. The experience reinforced my desire to spend eternity fertilizing the earth instead of being locked up in a box and forgotten.
My perspective is the result of years with parents and relatives who’ve all had open caskets at their funerals. I’ve heard of grown children, squabbling over details of their parent’s funeral. I’ve seen young children stand in bewilderment, waiting for their loved one to wake up. I’ve seen people talk to, and caress, the deceased while wailing in grief, and I’ve watched people whisper as they’re viewing the departed.
Let’s face it… When we have “one last look,” we have one of two comments:
- “Oh, doesn’t she look good?” We pretend they did a wonderful job with hairspray and makeup, trying to replicate a photo or follow directions from family members. I’ve seen too many people who don’t look at all “natural” and those visions are burned into my memory. I have never seen anyone who looks good.
- “Oh, she looks terrible. That doesn’t look like her at all.” We might not acknowledge it, but most often the attempt to make the deceased look lifelike fails miserably. Instead of remembering what was real and meaningful, we’re left with memories of what looked like an imposter.
I want my family to hold a celebration of life with lots of pictures and poignant stories. Afterwards I want the crowd (hopefully there will be one) to share memories over a feast of fajitas, shrimp, margaritas and champagne. If there’s a need for closure, hold a photo of me, grasp a family member’s hand, and talk about the good times we had.
My husband and I recently created a trust for our assets, not because we have great wealth, but because we want to make things easier on our children. We have wills, advance directives to physicians and a document sharing our wishes for our “handling” after death. I encourage you to do the same for your heirs if you haven’t already.
Today we have so many intriguing options for our bodies after death. We can be turned into diamonds, tattoos, reefs or fireworks. When my days on this earth are done, I want my earthly vessel to be returned to ashes and scattered among the vineyards in Italy. For years to come, I will be part of conversations between girlfriends, fun-filled family dinners and joyous celebrations as I nurture the soil to produce good wine. Plus it will be a heck of a trip for my family to take me there!
How about you? Have you made your plans?