I AM STILL HAUNTED BY THE PHOTO IN MY POST YESTERDAY, ‘This is Hunger This is Pain’ … of the heartbreaking yet incredibly beautiful, and so personal, mother’s good-bye to her child.
The sight of the wee baby in that meticulously dug hole makes me shudder – NOT at the sight of the child in its grave, but at the elaborate funeral frippery we in NorthAmerica have come to think is OK. Modern funerals and funeral homes completely remove us from death, from our goodbye. It wasn’t many decades ago that our dead were placed in simple coffins in our living rooms for a day of so of viewing and good-byes before burial. This is still the practice in many countries.
I am not saying I want us to revert to burying our dead in our back yards, but there must be a more honest, more real, way. Even the language of some people have removed the words of death from their lexicon. I cringe when I hear the elaborate ways people have of avoiding the reality. – just watch television for a few hours and the avoidance pounces at you.
Death is a part of life. We are born. We live. We die.
How do I want to depart this life? I am still thinking on this. But what I do not want is a metal-lined, heavy as a tree trunk, sterile coffin. I am not a fan of incineration either, whoops – cremation. Nor do I love the ideas of the circle-of-life process in the ground before inevitably returning to earth. All in all, none of the options is great.
Death is not an easy topic, but it should be. It is inevitable. It happens to each and every one of us. So, I prefer to think on it and make decisions about my farewell to those I love.
So, I choose …
. A simple, non-religious funeral with photos of me (in case you have already forgotten :), and photos with family and friends – photos of my life.
. Flowers – there have to be flowers – a few lovely bouquets of flowers – not ‘ funeral arrangements’, but pastel flowers in season and a few gorgeous long-stem roses, all in gorgeous vases.
. My four genealogy volumes lying about for people to glance through and remember those in my life, those who helped shape it, those alive and dead.
. And music – music I love. Music that fills my soul and so will hopefully ease the pain of my family. (That’s assuming they will experience pain. Tho’ I have learned ‘never assume’. Sorry guys – a bit of levity is in order here). So just play my iPod or iPhone. That will do it.
. It would be nice to have the loves of my life speak at my funeral – of love and lots of laughter please. I am not above ridicule. So remember the good times, the funny times. Remember it all.
. Then watch my ashes catch the breeze across beautiful Georgian Bay.
My apologies to Dr.Elizabeth Kubler Ross for borrowing her title.