06 May 2014

No.29 : Plan My Funeral

No. 29: Plan My Funeral

Now I'm not planning on dying any time soon.

But let's get real. Everyone does it eventually so might as well be prepared.

Because you know what would just kill me? Having a tacky funeral. 

And unless you make some plans and set some guidelines, the people that are still living will be left to their own devices when it comes to sending you off into the hereafter.
Do you want that?
I don't. 

Besides, it's a kind thing to do.  Bereaved family and friends want to do the appropriate thing, the perfect send off....but it's a hard time to think straight.   I know when my brother Paul passed away, suddenly and unexpectedly, it was a challenge to plan with my family and his family the best way to say goodbye. There are time constraints. So many decisions. And we wanted to honor him.

Brother Paul in the 70s. 
Best head of hair ever. 
Gone too soon.

And I am haunted by a funeral I attended in the early 80s. A wonderfully talented, slightly flamboyant friend that I worked with died of AIDS. He was one of the first confirmed AIDS deaths in Houston. There wasn't much information about AIDS but what was out there firmly (and in this case, appropriately) placed it in the realm of gay men. 

The problem came with his extremely conservative parents who held the funeral in a huge church with a very disapproving preacher. A preacher who made it known that this wonderful fun person "got what he deserved" by messing with the Lord's ways. It was awful. It was a travesty against the deceased and an insult to his many gay friends who came to say their goodbyes.   I will never forget walking out and hearing the person behind me say "If Thommy were still alive, he would have died from embarrassment today". 

So I've been doing a little reading.

There are lots of ways to go off into the great beyond.

Today I'm going to talk about some "disposal" options, Thursday I'll finish up with some ideas of my own. 

Let me just put this out there right now. I may not have all the details sorted out but I do NOT want to be pumped full of chemicals, put in a shiny metal box  and stuck in a cement lined hole in the ground.  What a waste of money and resources. 

Because a traditional funeral is expensive. Those pretty caskets lined with satin are BIG money makers for the funeral homes. And a funeral plot? Well, I guess it can be nice to have a spot to go "visit" with those that have passed on... but cemeteries take up acres of land and are filled with bodies  embalmed with  toxic chemicals.
 Nope. Not going there.

A beautiful old cemetery in Austria. 
I might not mind spending eternity here.

Eco funerals or green burials are getting popular and I like the idea. Forested areas where bodies are minimally prepared, wrapped in shrouds, placed in simple wood or cardboard caskets, planted and allowed to decompose. Fertilizer for the woods. That has a nice feel to it.

This is a gorgeous bio-degradable casket.
Again, a possibility.

I could sign up for Plastination.  That's where the liquids and fats in the body are replaced with plastics- yielding those wonderful specimens that fill up the BodyWorlds exhibits. Gunther von Hagens, the inventor of the process, has set up a body donation program in Germany. Might be a way to travel the world and I've always wanted to be in a museum.

Von Hagens with one of his bodies. 
Can we say "creepy"?

But I think cremation is my way to go. It takes a lot of energy to get the ovens hot enough to crisp up a body, but I guess I won't be concerned about that when the time comes.
I love the Indian way of cremating bodies. A fire on the beach and toss the ashes out to sea. (Or into the Ganges River which doesn't sound quite as lovely.)
Somehow I don't think that will fly in Galveston, though.  Or any other beach close to home. Probably have to be a traditional crematorium for me.

But here is what I won't be doing. I won't be emulating Mickey Easterling. Even though I have to give this woman credit for carrying on the fun into the  great beyond, I don't think my family will go for it.

And what did Mickey do?

She died last month at 83 and left strict instructions regarding her last party.  Specifically, she attended her own wake dressed in a feather boa, a "Bitch" broach pinned to her blouse,  with a flute of champagne in one hand and a cigarette in the other, propped up on a bench.  Really.

Apparently still the life of the party.    *

Now THAT'S a way to go.

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