blueeowyn: (Brr Ice)
[personal profile] blueeowyn
A friend of mine who works in the funeral industry recently posted something that I think really needs to be spread. So, I am propagating the idea (those of you who read her may recognize some of it). Most of this is fairly stream of consciousness so it may be unclear. However the gist of it is "don't disrespect who I am OR those who I leave behind who may be hurting"

At some point we will all die. And we won't be there to tell people what we want (or DON'T want). So, here is an opportunity to post guidelines for those people who will be dealing with your death. I have seen situations where someone knew they were going to die soon and had requests that were VERY different from what the family thought they wanted.

Take me for example, I think that the people who know me would know better than to lay me out in a bright pink bridesmaids dress (if they could even find one that would fit me), but do people REALLY know my thoughts? If it comes to a heated discussion between people with similar claims on me, will there be anything to act as arbiter?

Well, now there will be. First of all, if there are organs of mine that would be useful, please take them, use them, and let someone else Live Long and Prosper. If there is a chance of organ donation, go ahead and put me on a ventilator or whatever to keep the organs fresh. No problem! However, in general, I do NOT want to be put on machines unless there is a REALLY good chance that I will recover and still be ME. Temporary use of the machines in certain situations is one thing, long term prolongation of life is another thing altogether. I support the former and find the latter crass and wrong.

If there are no useful organs (or very few), my second choice would be science. Preferably either a medical school (not Wake Forest) or even a body farm like at the CSI school. If I happen to die of something that studying me for the disease is a GoodThing, that could trump the dissection option ... but it would need to be something specific about what killed me.

After all the reasonable use of my body has been made, cremation is what I want. I do not want to be put in a wooden box in a plastic or stone sarcophagus and thrown in the ground. I also do NOT want to be put in an above ground mausoleum. I know that they are more space efficient than traditional graves but please, cremate me.

Now, what to do with the ashes? I know that many of you might have some fascinating ideas. I don't mind being planted like my grandmother was, heck, leave me in an urn if it makes the people I love happier until they pass then scatter them where they might do some good. While it is interesting to think about being scattered on the joust field, or being sunk in the boat burnings at Pennsic, I personally don't need that (though if the people behind would be helped by that, knock yourselves out ... divvy me up if necessary). I have no special things that "must be cremated with me" but if people have small tokens that is is important TO THEM, cool.

So, the funeral/memorial/wake/whatever you want to call it. Let's see:

Rule 1 - no open casket. Yes, I know that some people don't believe you are dead until they see your corpse but a friend of mine summed it up nicely talking about seeing her friend's body's face. I've never seen a corpse that didn't look like a corpse. My FIL in the casket in some ways looked more dead there than he did in the hospital after he died and that took some doing. I have no desire to have anybody's final memories of me be that. Besides, if it has been used for certain donations or research it won't be a pretty sight.

Rule 2 - no massive organized religion church service (in the very unlikely event that I do become religious this may be changed but I'm thinking it is safe). For those people in my life who are religious, they may say prayers to their deity/deities to themselves but don't inflict your religion on my corpse OR my friends who may not feel the same way you do. There will probably be some sort of visitation where condolences are expressed but that will be if the people I leave behind need that.

Rule 3 - at the wake - no all black, all fancy clothes on the attendees ... jeans & t-shirts ... or garb ... or something fun. I mean, it is me we are talking about. I'd like something like was held for "King Henry" at the festival several years ago. That was really nice. Some nice snacks, some booze (though for me it is optional but if it is there, there WILL be designated drivers, right????), some pictures (though again, for me that is majorly optional since the number of good pictures of me is small), and lots of stories (even if they are embarrassing about me). Some tears, some laughter, and a lot of bonding of friends and seeing facets of the life that not everyone had seen. I think that is cool. Heck, if there could be some of the dancing like Javasaurus & I had at the wedding that would be nice but only if it fits what is being done and who is there (specifically I'm remembering the Over-Under-Weavy Thing and Tangle Bransle ... if Tangle get two talented people leading two lines). If people want to sing together, cool (no I don't care how clean it is).

Rule 4 - for the sake of the funeral people; if you do some sort of music during visitation, please either have it pretty innocuous OR have a LONG loop. Just because I happen to like Rocky Mountain High doesn't mean that my family should listen to it on endless repeat for hours. Heck, that would drive me crazy too and I like the song. Speaking of funeral people aka morticians. Find a family run place, I want to support them rather than a big conglomeration.

Rule 5 - regarding my stuff. Some things I have in mind for some people, some of it I even have written down. Trust me that there are some reasons for my choices but mostly, I want anything that I owned and loved to have a good home. I HATE the idea of perfectly useful stuff going to a landfill (some of you may recall the "make it go away" sale that we had with my sire's stuff ... a lot of that followed the same principle ... and the stuff that belonged in a landfill was sent there). Obviously Java gets first choice at most of it assuming he outlives me.

Rule 6 - Flowers, I like flowers, however, I don't see a reason to have lots of them at the wake or the visitation (I figure the party part may be done a few months after the death but the opportunity for people to express condolences to the family would be fairly early). I'd rather you spend the money on some of the things I support. Donate to Wolf Trap, the National Zoo, NKF, any charity studying whatever killed me, Hospice, or whatever charity that you support that you think I would approve of (so yes that means I would prefer that you not give money in honor of me to the Protection of Family type of places). If you are fond enough of me to want to give money there has to be something that we can both support. That said if plants really make you groove, plant a tree (or sponsor a tree) in my honor somewhere.

Oh, I liked what one person put in hers. No revenge, if someone kills me with malice see that the person is prosecuted under the law and goes to jail. No need to do vengence. If someone kills me in a reasonable accident/mistake; that goes under the general "bad things happen sometimes" and I don't want to see another life ruined by stupid lawsuits. If I do something stupid, don't blame others.

Date: 2009-10-29 03:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
What's the deal with Wake Forest?

Date: 2009-10-29 03:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
mostly to annoy my in-laws. Most of the family is University of Maryland College Park Terrapin supporters. My BIL went to Wake on a football scholarship and his family gloats when Wake wins (vs. MD or otherwise). His wife recently said something about "oh darn, Wake lost; but so did Maryland to that's OK". Which wouldn't annoy me as much if they didn't go to Maryland games and let their son be a Terp in everything but when Wake is mentioned. I have nothing against the school.

I could just as easily said except FSU since that school plays dirty pool in college football and is a long time rival of my mom's alma mater (The University of Florida).

I'm more interested in being useful than choosey.

Date: 2009-10-29 04:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
:half smile: "except FSU" wouldn't work as well with the 'body farm like CSI' -- their Gainesville campus has one of the major forensic anthropology programs. I think it's there and somewhere in TN.

Hm. I could be confused, though. I know they bury pigs and study decomposition under different conditions - not fully sure whether they half-bury humans.

Date: 2009-10-29 04:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The one in TN uses actual humans. Buried in shallow graves, left in the woods, etc.. I recently read "The Bodies We Buried" ( about the National Forensic Academy and it is VERY interesting (though somewhat disturbing) to read. The authors created the academy from scratch and it is an amazing set-up. The things they do for their students is impressive (setting up crime scenes for various training exercises).

The "Body Farm" is a study area for the students in body recovery and study as well as decomposition studies in a variety of situations (temperature, humidity, depth, soil type, etc.) which records the data and makes it available to medical examiners all over. If you know how a human body decomposes in certain situations you can get a reasonable estimate for how long the body has been there.

Date: 2009-10-29 04:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
yes. I'm familiar with what they do; just wasn't sure whether Gainesville had a similar body farm to TN's.

Date: 2009-10-30 01:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I just recently taught my "Death & Dying" workshop again and one of the big things I always say is "write it down." Your wishes can't be respected if no one knows them!


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