Tag: funerals

The Truth About Last Wishes

Truth has taken on vague connotations in recent years, but there is one truth every sane person agrees about: no one wants to think about their death or plan for it. Those are the last wishes this post ruminates and expounds.

It began for us with a simple mailer. Although for me it began five years ago when my mother succumbed to the war lymphoma won over her physical body.

For my husband, things aren’t so cut and dried. His father’s living under an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, but his physical health is strong. Denial is no stranger to me, so I understand the proclivity to push things off until later.

But later always comes.

Easy and Hard

Death comes for everyone. And after that, those of us remaining will grieve.

That’s never easy. Some deaths are harder to face than others.

But sitting at a table with the funeral director doesn’t have to be hard for those we’ve left behind.

In the case of my mother, she had everything planned out and prepaid. It took us maybe thirty minutes to pick out the pamphlet they’d print for her service and decide where and when to hold it.

It still wasn’t “easy” because our hearts were bleeding. But it could have been worse than facing a firing squad, and it wasn’t.

When my husband or sons have to sit at that table, I want them to have the answers. I don’t even want them to have to see the questions.

Nothing will be easy, but a hard time can be lessened with a little cash and forethought.

Money and Planning

Yes, making death easier to swallow comes down to the money. And the forms the final wishes counselor filled out at our dining room table. There are still too many blanks on those forms, but they’ll be filled in.

My kids had fun joking about spilling the ashes or carrying them around in the trunk of their car. I think my youngest son brought up the idea that the etched box I’m envisioning will become the “white elephant gift” passed between their houses each Christmas.

Yeah, but I’m not dead yet. And although my oldest son had no interest in discussing the subject, we did manage to decide that investing money on a niche or plot to keep the ashes was pointless. No one would visit them after they were interned. Why not set them free somewhere?

My soul will be long gone. “Going up to the Spirit in the sky.”

https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-pty-pty_converter&hsimp=yhs-pty_converter&hspart=pty&p=spirit+in+the+sky#id=1&vid=15ccb6d6ae01be80c27fb08acf9d8ca2&action=click

Two advantages of pre-planning and prepaying:

  1. The meeting at the table is about minor details instead of major decisions
  2. There’s no invoice due to double the grim moment

In the End

Truth: I’ll be dead. Those who survive me can choose to follow my plan or do something different.

My last wishes will be paid for already. If they decide to embellish things, they’ll get a bill. If they would rather skimp out on the flowers, box and pretty bookmarks, the funeral director cuts them a check.

In the end, I’ll still be gone. I doubt I’ll be watching from Heaven to see that my last wishes are fulfilled verbatim. I’ll have more important things to do: like gape at translucent gold streets and catch up with my mother and grandmother and others who’ve been enjoying the endless vacation.

And as much as my kids didn’t want to talk about it now, I hope when the time comes, they’ll appreciate that their dad and I took as much of the sting out of a difficult time as we could.

Because that’s what parents do.

Do you have a plan in place for your final wishes? Are there some things you don’t think parents should discuss about this with their kids? Have you faced a more difficult funeral home discussion?

The Truth about Death and Dying

Image courtesy of images4.wikia
Image courtesy of images4.wikia

Dying has been glorified in recent years. Meanwhile, Death remains an insidious villain. Recent experience leads me to believe these two attitudes have no basis in reality.

Hear me out.

It’s not my intent to start an argument or step on anyone’s toes. Death and dying are personal avenues for every living soul on planet earth. My thoughts on these concepts will hardly prevent me from treading the dying path toward death.

If only it could be so easy.

Glorification of Dying

Movies glorify dying. Look at the soldier throwing himself on a grenade. How about the stranger tossing a child from in front of a speeding car at the cost of his own mortality?

Gaming forums are the worst offenders in this area. Actual snippets overheard during an online gaming session:

  • “Would you stop dying? You’re killing our team score.”
  • “I’m on my last life so try and keep me from dying, will you?”
  • “What do you mean? I only died three times!”

In isolation, these snippets would be cause to call in a grief counselor for an intervention. They are commonplace in a household where first person shooter games are cool and hopping onto Xbox Live to kick some alien booty with friends is a favorite pastime.

“Dying grace” is a phrase I used myself – before I had to watch my mother die. Dying in a bed of affliction in never graceful. If the phrase is speaking of an attitude toward death, it might make sense. If it’s a rephrasing in regard to God’s grace for daily living, I might be able to swallow it.

Dying is ugly. Whether there is blood and gore or just a silent slipping away, it isn’t glorious.

Death: Hero or Villain?

I recently read a novel that depicted Death as just another guy doing his job: collecting souls and taking them to the afterlife. How does that make him a villain?

Death is a gateway. It marks the end of this thing we call life. We love life; therefore, we hate death.

The actual moment of death happens in an eye’s blink. Dying provides time for that last monologue (courtesy of Shakespeare). Death silences those lips. Dying is the thing that prolongs suffering. Death is a doorway to relief.

In this sense, death can be a hero. If death is a villain to be avoided at all costs, it’s wrong to make dying appear to be something marvelous and desirable when its end is death.

My logic could be faulty, but here’s the bottom line. We glorify dying when it is done in a certain manner: sacrificially or stoically. In the same breath, we vilify death as a lecherous beast that sucks life away. It’s backwards. We should despise dying for diverting us from the pathway called living and embrace death as the gateway into the next life.

Crazy? Maybe if you have no faith to mark the gate of death for what it is: the elevator to eternal life.

Regardless, dying is ugly. There is blood, pain, sickness, and heartache. Dying involves a loss of vitality, a surrender of dignity, and the murder of hopes and dreams. My prayer: to skip dying and just screech, tires spinning all the way, from life into death.

What truth can you share about death and dying? How does your perspective differ from mine?