<<This post is part of my series, ‘IF I DIED TODAY.’ Posts in the series are presented with the hope that we can prepare ourselves for our own eventual end-of-life issues before the end comes; so that we may have peace of mind for ourselves and our loved ones may be undistracted by our personal worries. Let’s be allowed to enjoy the final days together, to the fullest.
Such preparation now frees us in many ways, from the very anxiety death creates in us. Let’s start the conversation and quell our fear.>>
Some may wonder if I have a preoccupation with my own demise… in short, I do. I realize this topic of preparing for death, any death, is taboo to a great many. And, it seems so clichè to say ‘death is a natural part of the life cycle’ — but it is.
Over the past month or two, several (at least 6) of our friends / family have passed away — which makes death a frequent target of rumination, for me personally. Our share of losses has been extraordinarily high in number and in some cases, shocking in the unexpected suddenness.
When I was in mortuary college, one of the assignments in the funeral arrangements class required each student to draft an arrangement of their own funeral.
It was all hypothetical, of course, because funeral directors don’t actually die. Just like doctors don’t get sick and dentists don’t get toothaches…
So I went a little “exotic” and made my service a wilderness-themed affair…this is due to my love of the outdoors and fond childhood memories of summers spent in the Big Sky country of Montana, fishing in the glacial streams, etc. I wanted to be buried inside my Dodge Ram pickup truck – no need to get a box for me (spankin’ new at the time…with all the bells and whistles…a real sweet set of wheels I was crazy proud of), my body positioned in driver’s seat...interred at a place near the Beaverhead or Big Hole Rivers. I know…I am a bit of an odd duck. But, it was a ‘fantasy’ funeral, so I went with the whimsy of it and made it as colorful and extreme as I could. It would be the stuff that legends and folklore were made of. EPIC. I had a ball imagining the logistical nightmare my fantasy funeral and burial might create…those engineers were going to have fun digging the hole in that tough, rocky, rugged timberline! I was going to be a royal pain in the ass all the way to the end! Alas, it was all purely fictional. Nobody in class had come up with anything remotely as brazen or bizarre as my plan. Ha!
PLOP ME RIGHT HERE, I’M TAKING THIS BABY WITH ME!
HOWEVER, it wouldn’t be impossible to do. I would simply make the inquiries and get an idea of the money and permissions it would require and get the hard part taken care of well before-hand, as is proper and rightly my responsibility to handle…
Speaking of which…there really isn’t any excuse to leave the financial burden on your family if you plan well. That’s the reason they make life insurance policies…buy one that will cover the bases of your death expenses and any debt you’ll probably leave…more units if you have a dependent family to cover. The coverage can be adjusted after children grow up, etc. The emergency of an unexpected death may arise anytime. Death is something we all must accept; we’d be wise to get these details taken care of as early in our adulthood as possible…it is the biggest gift to your loved ones you can give. SECURITY. *** Also, for new babies (children or your grandkids) buying a policy may be a very wise fiscal decision which may give them available cash for college later. Those Gerber Grow Up Plan policies are very affordable, too. ***
That is the whole point of celebrating a life…customizing a memorial service that uniquely befits and reflects the person’s way of life. It should be meaningful!
Cartoon of the worst possible thing to say at a funeral. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I cannot help but laugh now at the idea of myself, riding down in my pretty truck…half-figuring I might be headed out on the Highway To Hell…considering that I typically drove like a bat out of hell…yippee- ki-yi-yay!
Back then, it would have been an ideal tribute to the way I lived my life and the adventurous, ‘fearless’ hot mess I was. I have tamed down quite a bit from those heady, wild-child times, regrettably. Downright mundane, now.
Since my life has evolved and changed over time, I tend to be more realistic now when it comes to making any preferences and instructions for the handling of my own funeral. The tribute made in my honor is meant to comfort those I leave behind…it really isn’t mine to enjoy, so they ought to opt to do as they wish, and I’ll ensure that the funding is provided via those life insurance benefits I have in place. It still doesn’t mean any of it should be boring, sad, or lackluster! I want a GOOD good-bye…there were too many struggles and hard times in my life, I really expect to get off to a positive start in death, if you please!
Services are made up of various components — readings of religious or spiritual passages, eulogies, rites, music — are some common elements.
Anybody who knows me well, as my daughters do, knows music has been a real passion of mine. From the time my girls were very small, they’ve been acutely aware of my love for singing to the radio or to the songs in my vast array of tapes and CD‘s amassed over the years. Once, while we were on a day-trip, one of them exclaimed, “Mommy must know the words to a thousand songs!” Actually…probably more like a couple thousand, I figure. Music has always been a life force with me; it would be odd if it weren’t part of the end of my life, as well.
I have a compilation of my favorite tunes recorded to a CD for just this occasion! I keep it where my self-written obituary and policies and stuff are safely put away. Of course.
Today I’ve decided to share one of my ‘designated’ songs that might be played; my way to send a heartfelt message to the folks I loved. I felt the sentiment in the lyrics were spot-on, explaining my hoped-for legacy to leave behind…
I hope you enjoy Miss LeeAnn Womack‘s pretty song “Something Worth Leaving Behind.” (By the way, I selected some upbeat music, too, which I will share in future posts of this series)
Do YOU have any favorite songs which speak to the way you feel about how you’ve lived life or the personal legacy you hope to leave behind?
©2014,Colleen S. Thompson.