When I Die

funny-pictures-dramatic-cat-asks-where-the-sting-of-death-is (1)

A few months ago I was reading The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessey and there is a point in the book where a bunch of people with terminal illnesses have to write about their funeral (I have no idea why they waited till they were in a hospice to think of these things but hey, it must have moved the plot along).

Then it got me thinking about the fact that young people don’t really talk about the big things like funerals and death. And they really should. People die young too. You don’t die at the age of 104 surrounded by family. I mean some people do die at the age of 104 but being young doesn’t automatically make you impervious to death.

So today I am going to talk about my funeral because it scares me and I’m quite obviously not going to live forever. I mean if David Bowie can die there is basically no hope for the rest of us.

First thing, I don’t want to be put in the ground. This is mostly because the graveyard my grandparents are in (and where my parents will end up too) is the most awful place I can think of. You could visit on a lovely sunny day and that graveyard will still be cold and windy. I’m not sure how it manages that but it does.

But the thought of cremation somehow manages to seem worse than being buried. But here is the thing. When I was a kid I somehow managed to get this idea into my head that when you die you turn into flowers. And it’s sort of true, I know very little about science but I know energy isn’t created and destroyed it turns into something else. So if (as Carl Sagan said) “we are all made of star stuff” then doesn’t it mean that a part of us would turn into flowers after death? I still don’t like the thought of cremation but I think I have a better chance of turning into flowers that way.

Now, I would rather not have a funeral in a church. I’m really not into that whole organised religion thing (though I find Buddhism fascinating). I would like to go out with as little fuss as possible. I don’t like making a scene now and I’m pretty sure I would be embarrassed if anyone made a big deal over my death. And let’s be realistic, I only have like 3 friends so it’s not like many people would turn up anyway.

Now onto music, because that’s always an important thing at funerals. I’m not a fan of music in general. My ipod broke years ago and since then I just got used to not listening to music. But there will be a part of me that always loves musical theatre. So I suppose showtunes would be a good way to go out. I would make one specific song request though: I’m Going Home. Not the hymn version (because that does exist), I’m referring to the version from Rocky Horror Picture Show. Because this final song somehow manages to be poignant and lovely and everyone will have to listen to it while I know it’s actually been sung by a dude who is sad because he made a hunk in a tank who was then killed by a bunch of aliens. I will truly have the last laugh.

One last and I think most important thing. Do not let anyone say I went gently into that good night or she greeted death like an old friend or any bullshit like that. I will not, I refuse to go gently into that good night because if I’m perfectly honest that good night scares the ever living shit out of me.

Okay this post is getting far too serious for my liking so I will end with a bit of advice from Monty Python.

Life’s a piece of shit, when you look at it
Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke, it’s true
You’ll see it’s all a show, keep ’em laughin as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you

Thanks for reading.
Find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads.

PS: I want to point out (because this is really quite a serious subject) that I’m not dying. I’m not planning on offing myself. I spoke to Joe about this post and he convinced me it was a good thing to write about so if you didn’t like it go complain to him.

PPS: I mean I technically am dying but then technically you’re dying too so yeah….

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8 thoughts on “When I Die

  1. Not to sound utterly morbid, but enjoyed this post for the reason that I agree with you on everything. I don’t want to be buried, rather cremated because I want to go out like a viking! I also agree that we are energy and we are made of the star stuff so in turn I truly believe our “spirits” or our energy will not cease to exist but rather transform into something else. And Monty has superb advice!
    Until the end- let’s enjoy the ride!

  2. I think the turning into flowers is becoming possible. Read a few years ago (and even saw an update on the matter recently), that a method is being developed to have human bodies after death combusted into dirt-like substance, which can then used in a garden. Was supposed to be much more friendly towards the environment than cremation or even burying our bodies.
    So there’s hope!
    I plan to wait until it does work, so that I can fulfil my life-long dream to become a tree.

  3. Thank you for writing about this. I worked for a time as a paralegal and not putting your final wishes about death and illness in a will, living will and power of attorney makes everything harder. I had to go to dying people’s hospital rooms trying to get paperwork together in a race against time. I am pretty young but got all three done. Because I want to make it as easy as I can for the people I am leaving behind. And sadly people die young all this time. We just don’t like thinking or talking about it.
    x The Captain

  4. I’ve always loved the idea of conservation of energy in regards to death. I’ll be getting cremated too (again not anytime soon I hope) and the poem do not stand at my grave and weep has always reminded me of it in a very beautiful way.
    Everyone should have monty Python playing at their funeral.
    (How do you not listen to music?!?!)

    • I think it makes death feel not quite so scary. You know it’s not the end. In a way. Isn’t there this really nice line in Doctor Who about it? I can’t remember. Will need to look into that.

      Weirdly enough, because of my CFS. My ipod broke right around the time I got ill and I soon realised that I couldn’t focus while having music on. Still have problems with it tbh. Even people talking on the train can put me off a book if they are being loud. I sort of just got used to not listening to music.

      • I can’t focus with music on either. But I end up listening to music when I’m not doing anything and I’m not doing anything a lot cos of Cfs. lol.
        I feel like anything the doctor says about death isn’t fair seeing as he doesn’t really die.

  5. My own preference for after-death storage would be to get shipped to a body farm; nutritious (for the local fauna) AND educational (for budding CSI techs).

    The Python music at a memorial service is a splendid idea.

  6. I used to go out with a a funeral director and learned a lot about funeral options. I knew someone who was buried in a wicker coffin and a tree planted over his spot, there are burial grounds that are just foresty as people use eco burial methods. No big graces pr religious stuff and it is very sustainable.

    There were people who turned the crematorium into a rock concept venue, coffins carried by pall bearers dressed as Darth Vader, you name it. You can make funeral plans at any time but in the mean time, sorting out whether you are an organ donor and making your wishes known to your family is a good step.

    My mum is a nurse who cares for people at the end of their life. Families often don’t know what to do when a loved one dies; you can stay with the body for a few hours before the funeral directors collect them. People want to talk to their loved one, dress them, hold their hand and cry and it ok to do that. She frequently deals with people who want to see a priest, contact a family member, make sure a pet is cared for, have a last whiskey and hug their family. It is good to talk about it and not be afraid. Families that talk deal with things better.

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