I’m not one to dwell on death much. But it happens to everyone, so there’s no point in never considering it. I know everyone has unique wishes for their final departure from this world, and most cultures have traditions that preside over funerals or ceremonies.
That’s nice and all, but I don’t want anything extravagant. In fact, if I could have what I really want, here’s what it would be:
1. I want to stay home. Don’t whisk my body away as soon as I croak to some stuffy funeral home. Just leave me home for a day or two. Let the people who love me come and say goodbye in my home. Let my family get used to the idea that I’m gone on their own terms. This may sound creepy nowadays, but in the old days, this is how they did it. Granted, I don’t think it’s necessary to lay me out on the kitchen table as was commonly done in old Appalachia, but it wouldn’t hurt to put me on a cot or something in the living room.
2. I want Ronnie to build my coffin. And I want my coffin to be a simple pine box. No cushions, satin, pillows, brass fixtures, varnish or anything else. I live a simple life. I enjoy simple things. My middle name is Jane, for crying out loud! Plus, building my box will give Ronnie something productive to do instead of sitting around and looking at me lying on the cot in the living room. It’s better for him to stay busy.
3. I do not want to be cremated or embalmed. I want me – plain old me – chemical-free me – to be wrapped in a comfy quilt and put in my plain box and buried. This is very environmentally responsible. I will return to the earth and not pollute the ground with toxic carcinogens used in embalming. Even better, plant a tree right over me. I’d love to be part of a tree. Maybe not a fruit tree, though. That might be kind of weird for whoever eats from it.
4. I don’t want a funeral. Have a party. I like cook-outs, not that it matters because I won’t be there either way. Don’t have a slide show about my life. Just eat good food, laugh, tell stories about me, and listen to good music. It would be cool if you played my favorite songs. Pick the playlist on my iPod that says Spirituals and the one that says Some Favorites. Trust me, it will be the best non-funeral music ever.
5. Don’t leave all my stuff just how I left it. Especially since I never really have things how I want them anyway. Feel free to clean up the things I didn’t quite get to, to finish the projects that I have started, and to organize those things that clearly need help. And if I have something you need, you’re welcome to it – as long as it’s okay with my family.
- Rest in fleece: demand soars for woollen coffins (guardian.co.uk)
- Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust (gravewords.wordpress.com)