A fellow cancer journeyer and I have been discussing funerals or, to be more precise, “final arrangements.” It’s not that we’re morbid ladies, but the subject came up and we shared our thoughts. We both agreed, without hesitation, that a “traditional” funeral isn’t our style.
I think it’s high time that the American funeral industry moves into the 21st century and recognizes that the times they have a’changed. Most people I know, and many of them much younger than I, believe that someone’s death should be marked by their family and friends with a celebration of their life and not with programmed mourning dictated by the traditions of either a church or the funeral industry.
During my lifetime, I’ve attended enough funerals to know for certain what I don’t want, and that’s a bunch of people sitting or standing around during a “viewing” with long faces, murmuring in hushed voices, and, worse yet, boo-hooing while they wait their turn in line to sneak one last peek at me.
I don’t want every one dressed in their “Sunday go to meeting” clothes, and uncomfortable because of it, surreptitiously glancing at their watches and wondering when they can slip out of the funeral home and get something to eat.
In fact, (boatswain’s whistle, please) NOW HEAR THIS: There will be no viewing and, hopefully, no involvement of a funeral home except to take care of whatever is required by law.
With all due respect to those whose beliefs disagree with mine, I think a viewing is a dreadful thing. Never have I seen the deceased look like him- or herself. The thought of some mortuary make-up specialist dolling me up — applying a smidgeon of blusher to my cheeks, a pretty pink gloss to my lips, and a light blue eye shadow to my lids to go with the tasteful, navy blue dress into which I’ve been stuffed after being pumped full of formaldehyde — just makes me want to hurl. So, spare me, please!
I have mixed feelings on the cremation thing. About ten years ago after a friend died and was cremated, I thought I’d made my mind up in favor of it. Shortly thereafter, a discussion with my then-teenage daughter let me know she hated that idea. I feel obliged to follow her wishes, at least in that one respect.
My friend did make some good arguments in favor of cremation. Both of her parents were cremated, as per their wishes, and their urns, also per their wishes, are kept in my friend’s household.
Even though I don’t like the casket alternative, I’ll probably end up in one. And, I’ll pick my own, damn casket, thank you very much! I’ve been looking around a bit and spotted a couple that might be satisfactory, including one snazzy number in a rich, ruby red. I think that’s much more in keeping with my possible final destination than some white number lined in Pepto pink bearing the embroidered word “Mother” on the lining that no one will be seeing anyway! To be kind, though, I’ll leave several choices for my loved ones to choose from.
Do you realize the range of costs for a standard, 18 gauge steel casket? You can pay more for a casket than you probably did for your last car. Did you know that you can buy caskets on line or that you can even buy them from WalMart and pick them up at your local Wally-Mart with “free ship to store” arrangements? Isn’t that a hoot?
As to my choice of “after-wear,” whatever you do, don’t dress me up! If you can’t abide the thought of me in my birthday suit (even though there will be NO viewing), then fine. A nice pair of capris — my blue-jeans ones would be fine — and a shirt — but NO bra and NO shoes, although sox are ok. I want to be comfy 🙂
Ok, so, we’ve taken care of those details, now on to the celebration!I think, for starters, that a nice, simple ceremony at my church would be good. It also will allow those uncomfortable with the more lively celebration I want to feel that they’ve done the “respectful thing.” Pastor Tom has a wonderful way with words and I know he’d do the thing right and keep it short and sweet. We have an awesome music director, too, who’ll understand and go along with the plan if I request some non-traditional music selections.
It’s been years since I attended a burial at the All Saints Cemetery in Jensen Beach, but it is, to me, the most beautiful of any in the surrounding area. Perched high atop what is probably the only hill in this entire four-county area, it overlooks the water (if you’re in the right spot, and those probably are all taken by now). It also has an abundance of big trees. Anyway, I want a final resting place with hills and lots of trees!
After that, let the party begin! More than likely, the cemetery won’t permit a “happy” event, so someone’s going to have to be in charge of the location. Sandsprit Park seems like a good choice, or even Loggerhead Park in Jupiter.
Get those barbecue pits going! I want ribs and chicken and everything else to go with it. If it’s in season, lobster would be outstanding, too. Chill some beer and wine. Spring for a band — The Nouveaux Honkies would be awesome! But, if that’s not possible, then put someone else in charge of bringing a decent stereo system and make sure there’s lots of Journey, Chicago, ELO (I’ll leave a list, I promise). Heck, do the Macarena, if you’ve a mind to, but please do NOT do The Chicken Dance!
Make sure there’s activities for the kids, too. Heck, get a clown who can do face painting and twist up some balloons. Get a bounce-house. Who knows how long you guys’ll be partying?!
My more-organized friends will know what else to do, so I’ll leave that up to them 🙂 The main thing is to CELEBRATE. Celebrate those things that I love! Celebrate that I had a wonderful life, however long it may have been! And celebrate that, just like Frank Sinatra, in the end … I did it MY WAY!
Coffin by Creative Coffins, photo courtesy of Design Buzz-Cool and Crazy Coffins