Well, we've been talking a lot about new life here on my blog lately. Let's switch it up a little. Let's get morbid.
Sometime after Murray and I got married, we got onto the subject of dying and funerals. And this has sparked a great debate and conversation between us. At times we agree with one another, and at times we don't quite see eye to eye. So let's talk death a little.
What bugs me about the whole dying thing is that a funeral costs a heck of a lot of money. It sounds to me like a heck of a lot more money might be spent on my funeral than was spent on my wedding. And that doesn't really sit right with me.
Now as I go into the details a little bit about money and dying, please remember that really, I'm mostly talking about me dying. I'm not talking about my loved ones. I'm talking about how I would like to be treated when I have died. These are my wishes. If my loved ones have different wishes, I am absolutely happy to accommodate them. But as far as my funeral is concerned, well...
When it comes right down to it, I'd rather be cremated than buried. My religion discourages (but doesn't forbid) cremation, and I'm not quite sure I understand why. I figure that if God can successfully resurrect someone who's been devoured by a shark and pooped out, and then the poop has been devoured by other fish and so on, then He's got to be capable of resurrecting a burn victim, too. And really... is a bunch of ashes that much more difficult than a full skeleton and decomposed flesh? Murray doesn't like the idea of a body burning. I don't think it's any worse than worms, maggots, fungus, etc. (Or sharks.)
In our discussions, however, I have agreed that I can forgo cremation and be buried. BUT, if I'm buried, I don't want a several thousand dollar casket!! What's the point?? The casket can communicate to others how much you love/value the deceased. But should my family have to spend several thousand dollars on something that's going to be buried in the ground just to prove to our neighbors that they loved me? What if at my viewing, they displayed me in a pine box with my dead little hands clutching $5000? Would that have the same effect? Would people know that my family loved me because that's how much money they buried me with?
Rather than an expensive casket, what I would love the most is a pine box painted by Murray. I believe that that shows love and has more meaning than money. Of course, if I died before Murray, he'd really be in no mood to paint a casket with everything else that he has to do for my death. So what we ultimately concluded was that we could get the LIDS to our pine boxes and paint them together! During our lifetime! And then, when we die, they'll be ready to be buried with us. That sounds much better to me than the expensive casket. (By the way, it's okay to toss in some nice pillows and bedding, but let's make them colorful, too, okay? None of this pearly white stuff. Give me some flava.)
Murray and I are responsible people. We have life insurance policies. So no, I hope that it's not a financial burden for little Br8'en and his siblings when the time comes. But I'd rather them not spend all my life insurance money on my funeral. What I would prefer the most, is that the family use that money to go on a family vacation, or if that's too much to coordinate (after we have 10 kids and they each have 10, that's a lot of people to vacation with), at least go out for a really really nice dinner together. That's what I'd rather they spend the money on. Spend time together. Don't spend the money on a wooden box for me to rot in.
This is about as far as Murray and I got in our discussions. Soon after our pine box decision, Murray found out that there are laws about the casket and our homemade pine boxes wouldn't cut it. I was pretty sad about that, but yesterday I heard part of Radio West's discussion about the modern funeral industry. Today I listened to the full audio. It's really, really fascinating! And it turns out that there's a guy in Park City who makes pine boxes up to standard! Now to see if he'll sell us a couple lids for now...
So anyway, I started talking about all of this to my mom this morning, and then she told me the darndest thing I have ever heard. She said that you can be cremated and give your ashes to a company who will turn your earthly remains into...
Then, of course, she wondered what the surviving children do with the diamond. Who gets to wear Mom? Or do you set the diamond in a Christmas ornament and take it out once a year? Something to consider.
When it comes right down to it, I believe that the choice of how I am buried and honored should be more up to my actual mourners than me. Sure, I've just stated my preferences (not the diamond---the painted pine box and low-budget funeral), but I'll be dead at that point. I don't want to impose my way of mourning on people who would be uncomfortable with it. So what I think I'll do is just describe what I'd like in my last will and testament, explain why, talk about how it's important to me that more money be spent on family time than on what's being put into the ground, and let them know that they can make their own decisions.
And before I end this whole spiel, I'll add that I really think that a funeral can be a great party. Of course, I totally understand that if I go tomorrow, probably no one would be partying. But if I go at a ripe old age and everyone is expecting it, then I hope my survivors can miss me but celebrate me at the same time, and enjoy spending time with one another. My grandma's funeral a year and a half ago was a great event. I loved spending time with family and friends. We had a fantastic time together. We also cried and were sad that Grandma was gone. And that is the way I really feel it should be.
That being said, if I go before my time, and am eaten by a shark, and then pooped out, and my shark-poop remains are eaten by other fish, I really hope that people can see the humor in that, because what a way to go! (And feel free to catch the shark and have it stuffed and mounted on a wall.)