Monday, January 14, 2013

Death. Can you talk about it?

Do you ever take a look back at your past and wonder what the heck you have to show for it?

Not in the way of cars and houses or pairs of boots in your closet.

Do you ever let yourself think about your own mortality? Your own death.

I do. Death used to be such a taboo subject but now people pre-pick out their OWN flowers, their OWN music and their OWN casket. And to top if off – they PRE-PAY for all of that….before they are ever dead.

People in my town pre-pay and pick out their cemetery plot AND their headstones – while they are alive. My own parents have their names etched on headstones CURRENTLYand they are alive.

If seeing a living person’s name on a headstone doesn’t freak you out – nothing much will. A couple letters etched in stone can feel like a physical knife in your heart if you aren’t prepared for it.

How do you feel about that? Do you plan to plan your own funeral? Pick out your songs and flowers?
Pre-pay for it? Design your own headstone?

Do you wonder who will come? I do. I wonder if I’ll get to know when I’m dying. Will it be tragic and sudden and I won’t get to know or will it be a medical diagnosis and I’ll have time to prepare?

Will I be able to make peace with death if I’m allowed to prepare for it?

I wonder if I touched any lives. Will something I said to someone in my life stay with them forever?
Will I be missed?

I also wonder what it’ll feel like to be gone for centuries. When my kid’s kid’s kid’s are gone and passed away and no one in the living world has ever seen my face or met me or heard my voice – what does that mean for my spirit?

What will it be like to be literally a name on a leaf in a family tree in some old book people rarely look at?

Will it matter – because hopefully by that time – every single person I love will be with me again.

Do you ever let yourself really think about if your time was tomorrow? I mean people talk about it living like today is your last all the time – but think about it – how many people do you know that really do that?

I wonder if I’ll regret. Will I wish I had done more, been more, said more…loved more?

I suppose some of it sounds egotistical but really – everyone wants to be loved and missed when they are gone. By many.

I’ve shut out a lot of people. Driven some away. Pushed others right out of my life. I’ve apologized for years for being me and I’ve tried to change myself at my core to please others.

But today I don’t do that anymore. I try to celebrate the true me and let the chips fall where they may.

I have no idea if that’s right or wrong….or if when I’m gone that I’ll have left any kind of impression or mark on this world.  I simply hope so.

I know that I still can’t bring myself to buy a cemetery plot where I’ll be buried some day.
For some reason – that’s just too much. Too morbid. Too final.

I do, however, wonder if in 10 or so years, I’ll find myself with Rambo planning my funeral and his.

Does it matter – when I’ll be dead anyway?

I have no idea. I do know that knowing my last days have my final touch on them does seem intriguing. And the times where I’ve witnessed everything being done and paid for have been amazing for those left grieving. To not have to pick flowers and songs and caskets or pay for it – is a true blessing and allows those grieving – to simply grieve.

I want that for who I leave behind.

And I think I want that whole “celebrate life” theme. I think I’d like lots of balloons.

Bright ass flowers of every kind…from my own garden.

I want a pink or purple casket with teal lining. I want a picture of my girls and Rambo in that casket with me forever and the teddy bear Rambo gave me 20 years ago that I can’t sleep without.

I want to be buried in my most favorite, cutest, most comfiest PJs. No stuffy suit, thank you.

Part of pre-planning or thinking about it makes it a little less scary for me because I’ll be honest – some days it scares me to pieces. I just can’t comprehend it or understand it or wrap my head around the cycle of life sometimes.

But I can plan a party and hope the guests remember me when the party is over.

I know other people in my life who refuse to speak of their own death or do any planning.
They simply cannot. Not ever.

I get that and respect that.

How do you feel about it? Have you been to pre-planned and pre-paid for funerals? Been to any “celebrations of life” vs. funerals?

Do you think about how you’ll feel looking back? Will you regret or be at peace? Can you even talk about it now – while you are living?

I know this topic is pretty morbid for a Monday morning but this is what happens when I suffer from late night insomnia and my deep thinking takes over while I pray for sleep.

Lucky you guys, huh?


jennxaz said...

My 5 yr old asked me about that this weekend..."Mommy, if you and daddy die what happens to me" I was kind of caught off guard and he wanted to know the drill down from what if the grandparents die, to us dieing to my cousin dieing...etc

Fit Mom said...

you crack me up. I think it is GREAT to talk about it and get your wishes known. I mean what happens if something happens and you cant make them known? And they bury you without your teddy bear or in a stuffy suit? My grandma has a form of parkinsons and she is literally freezing alive. She cant move her arms, or legs and now her voice is going. SHE prepaid for her funeral. Everything is picked out. Music, clothes, casket, everything. There is no guessing. No wondering. And to me, if you have things you specifically want (or dont want) it is best to talk about it. My mom for example wants a cheap casket (a Glad trashbag would work for her) because she wants an ELABORATE headstone. SO she needs to find a spot where they will allow a headstone. Many places dont for ease of mowing. As we get older, we have to think about these things. A bit morbid for a Monday yes, but a great topic to talk about.

FitBy40 said...

My mom knew she was dying and was able to tell us what she wanted, and didn't want. She too just wanted a big party, no stuffy funeral home at all. So we had a very short service at my church for her (because I convinced her that the family would need that for closure) and then we headed to a local restaurant and had a sit down dinner. She knew all about it before she died, and approved. My sister put together a slide show of pictures which was cool.
Funny thing was when we were planning it she said "I don't even get to enjoy my own party", so my sister and brother in law had a 'practice' one for her while she could enjoy it with her friends and family.
It's nice to be able to be in control. However, I think the headstone thing is creepy!

Terrie said...

Dennis and I had that talk Friday. One of my uncles passed away and they didn't have any kind of service for him. I wasn't particularly close to him but I would have went to the service.

I have been to a pre-paid funeral and it was actually very nice. The "viewing" was more of a memorial or tribute with pictures all over the room on posterboard. Totally not a cry fest like most are.

I have a paralyzing phobia of worms so I am not sure what I want done with my body. Probably cremated but that just sounds so final, lol.

I don't people to be sad though, I have been to enough of those and I would rather have people walk away laughing at stupid antics we had done together.

Cat said...

I think about it a lot actually. Too much really. I get what you mean about wanting to have been important to people. I would love to be able to present in spirit at my funeral and walk around like they sometimes do on TV and in Movies and tell some other spirit guide or something, "Yeah, this chick always made me laugh." or "This dude never called me back. Jerk!" haha.

I definately pick up my songs and my flowers. I believe I'll have to pre-pay for G and I because we won't want to leave those expenses for someone else. I haven't paid for anything yet, but we will at some point before retirement.

Hopefully we have that long.
/heart u

Connie O said...

Even though I've lost a few people close to me, I've been to hardly any funerals--so I still haven't thought much of my own. But I have thought about the topic in general a lot more since I became friends a few years ago with a funeral director. She even used a photo of me to do a wax facial reconstruction for one of her mortuary science classes.

It's been nice through knowing her to have these things demystified because it takes the morbid feeling away. People who plan their own funerals are being practical and saving their families a lot of grief and trouble.

RockBand Barbie said...

We have talked about it within my family. When my mother had breast cancer she really didn't think she would make it through...and she almost didn't. They had to stop the chemo half way through because they said her heart could not handle the chemo and one more treatment would probably kill her. So she stopped and we all just prayed that she had done enough chemo to kill the cancer that was left in her body. In that time she planned her entire, viewing casket (she will have one day of visitation and then be creamated), her urn, and has paid for it all. Everyone in my immediate family made out a will (at my mother's requestduring that time) and I have been made executor of 5 different family member's will. I guess they are all up shitcreek if I die first :)

Kelly said...

I don't think about my own death since I have no control over when that will happen. I remember hearing about a person who had flatlined and come back, and this person said a few things. One, they saw the white light and when he moved closer to it, he saw a huge grassy field where lots of different animals were frolicking around. And that's how he knew that he was seeing heaven, because of the animals. So, if you ever flatline and you see animals, just know you're viewing heaven. :-)

twenty kilos to go said...

I posted something like this one day when I went to the funeral of a 38 year old friend. She had done so much with her life and I have done relatively little. I started to question what my obituary would look like, and it wasn't very interesting! Death does make you question life!

LDswims said...

Weighing in late...but I have thoughts.

My mom prepaid. For her, it was about making it easy for everyone else, not so much because she wanted things a specific way. She just knew her mom, her siblings, and her husband would fight over how it should all play out, from flowers to the color of flowers to the music, etc. So she prepaid. She treated everyone to her favorite meal. And she chose it all. And you are right, it meant that we all just got to grieve, to tell stories about her and her life and smile in memory, and to just not be bogged down with the stupid stuff. What was really cool was that everyone walked away from it all saying, yep, that was her. Too often funerals or memorials or whatever it is we are at turns into what the people left behind want and has little to do with what the person that died wanted. My grandmother did that to my grandfather. He wanted to be cremated and put out to sea. She wanted to be buried next to him some day. So she stuck him in the ground. She wouldn't let him have anything he wanted in his why start in his afterlife? That was what we all said, "jokingly", to try and make peace with it, but it still sucks.

Fred and I talk periodically to make sure we are still on the same page. I'm like my mom and my grandpa. I DO NOT WANT TO BE BURIED. I want to be cremated and put out to sea. For me, it's about getting back to the sea, my favorite place, but it's also because I absolutely cannot stand worms and I do not want to live an afterlife knowing my old carcass is down there being overrun by worms. Ugh. Just ugh. Such a horrific thought for me!

I also know I want a party and not a sobfest. I hope there is no tragedy around my death or my husband's. I think my greatest fear in life is my husband passing away first and leaving me behind - or me doing the same to him. I do not want that life for either of us. I want us to go together - and I want this to be in a gazillion years so the boys do not have to know hardship as kids or young men.

Finally, I know without a doubt you have made an impact on this planet. I know it because I am one of those who feels that impact. Nuff said.

I love you!

Laura Belle said...

Well, you know that death and I have had our ups and mostly downs. So, from my experience, it was so helpful when my Dad had everything mapped out. But what he didn't have mapped out, which was way more of a cluster F*ck was his day to day bills and credit cards and phone and crap like that. My mom had to fight for months to get his freaking phone shut off because they needed a CERTIFIED DEATH CERT! The damn phone company! But if he'd put her name on the contract, they wouldn't have needed one. It was like that with all his credit cards and all the bills under his name.

I think I'll let Ryan know the gist of what I want (a huge ass party), but i'll also make sure all the other hoopla is covered too.