SOL March 7th Death Wishes

Sounds morbid but it’s actually not. I thought about doing the ‘What I’ll miss after I’m gone’ post but I’m not ready yet. Instead, I’ve decided to focus on what I want to have happen after I die. A laundry list for loved ones of things to consider.

  1. Cremation makes the most sense. I have no special wishes for where the ashes go. Apparently they are not as light and easy to scatter as we see in all the movies. There can also be some chunky, crusty parts that might be a little unsettling if you’re not prepared. Read some books by Caitlin Doughty on death and burial or just watch her youtube videos. You won’t regret it. As your dealing with my death, turn to her words as if she were a good friend of mine. She won’t steer you wrong. She’ll inform you enough to help you reach the right decisions without feeding you the answers.
  2. If there’s going to be a funeral, memorial service or homegoing  or whatever, please try to include the following elements as best you can:
    • Display or share a selection of carefully curated New Yorker cartoons from the early to mid 2000’s which feature death, dying and funerals. These should be included in the funeral program or distributed extra. Please include the one with the adult son looking into his mother’s coffin when she rises and says, “You couldn’t wear a tie?” I love that one!
    • Make sure each guest receives a token bag with some Twizzlers, mini Snickers and Sweet Tarts. (Remind folks: “She really wanted you to have these to remember her by.”)
    • As for the meal afterwards, consider offering a selection of my favorite Asian dishes: Thai curries with chicken and/or shrimp, Pad Thai, and Korean Bulgogi. Make sure there are also vegan options – perhaps of Indian origin. Let there be mounds and mounds of rice!
    • Folks should drink whatever feels right. If I were there, I might start with a mixed beer (dark and light) and move on to a Zweigelt red wine. But to each his/her/their own, in this case.
    • For desert please offer chocolate chip cookies, Haagen Dasz brownie and caramel ice cream, Breyer’s Vanilla ice cream (with or without Product 19 topping), and an apple brown Betty to make your mouth water. Blueberry pie would also go well with Breyer’s.
    • Music: Yacht rock may be cringe worthy but it’s what I would want to hear: Michael McDonald, Kenny G., Chuck Mangione, James Taylor, Billy Joel, and so on. Then, you need to have a good playlist of 70’s /80’s Grown folks’ slow jams for the evening: Heatwave, Earth, Wind and Fire, Luther Vandross, The Gap Band, Commodores… you know the drill.
  3. Skip the flowers. Ask folks who want to do something to donate time or money to fighting voter suppression in the US. Get under Stacy Abrams’s umbrella and make some change. Join Mariam Kaba in whatever struggle she is supporting. Send money to Black women led organizations and efforts.
  4. I grew up Lutheran but whoever officiates does not need to be Lutheran. If I could have one hymn it would be “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” which is a bit militaristic and not really easy to sing but as a kid I remember that it seemed to spark my religious fervor in strange ways. Maybe hire an elderly Lutheran to sing it since I’m sure almost no one will know it. And that would be super sad to have this hymn mumbled by folks who lack the context and connection. So there’s that.
  5. This’ll sound hokey but at whatever gathering you decide on, if you can, organize a reflective walk for pairs or trios with these prompts for a structured dialogue. Remind folks: No cross talk; just listen and when your partner is done, respond with “Thank you” only. Offer the next prompt. Do all the prompts in one direction, then switch roles. Try to complete the process at least twice.
    • Tell me a memory you have of Sherri.
    • Tell me a hope you have leaving this gathering.
    • Tell me something you want to grow in your life.
  6. I know this is going to cost a pretty penny. I hope that I have planned accordingly. I hope my life insurance payout covers it. At any rate, please don’t skimp on the candy. Thanks.

So that’s most of what I can think of for now. Whew, it’s almost a relief knowing I’ll be dead and not tasked with making all this stuff happen! At any rate, if this falls on your particular shoulders, remember there’s a lot of help and support available. I love you all and really hope that although the occasion is somber that you can still gather and enjoy each other. That’s what the music, candy & ice cream & cartoons should do. The structured dialogue will help you process and move on I hope.

Be good, be well, be advised. I’m only gonna die once. Let’s do this right.

 

19 thoughts on “SOL March 7th Death Wishes

  1. From reading this slice, I wish I knew you in life, in person. I’d love to come to your funeral. I may just steal some of your ideas, too. And if you are, like all of us, heading towards the end of life sooner than later, I wish you peace. Your slice made me smile.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a service would be a true celebration of life! “Please don’t skimp on the candy” – priceless. “A Mighty Fortress” is about as rousing a hymn as there ever has been; it closed the funeral service of a good friend once and I thought, How victorious. How joyful. Oh and the ashes … In A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers compares them to kitty litter. Alas. Your wit and courage here in dealing with the subject of death reminds me of him.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your reflection here is filled with wisdom and love. I especially like the walk in pairs and the instruction to listen. We should always do that in life. “I’m only gonna die once. Let’s do this right.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Cracking up: ” Yacht rock may be cringe worthy but it’s what I would want to hear … ”
    And nodding my head: “Get under Stacy Abrams’s umbrella and make some change.”
    Kevin

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with Melanie, funny and real. I also noticed that you’ve thought about others in this moment. It feels like you’re taking care of and passing on wisdom. This would be a service to remember and a beautiful celebration.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is actually motivating me to get my own funeral/memorial service wishes in writing (and actually I have a will to change-divorced years ago and never changed that). Your matter of fact approach brought a smile and appreciation for the actual planning- thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You are right, your writing this is not sad or morbid. Your plan will be a Heartfelt celebration of your life. My Grandma made plans for her memorial. I remember she would tell me all about it. She was always ready to meet the Lord.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve been half planning and mostly musing the ways in which I want to mark my 50th birthday…with a few changes in details, it looks a lot like your funeral!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love this! Death is something that doesn’t have to be scary. It’s the other half of life. My mother-in-law recently passed after a short battle with cancer. She left behind some very helpful instructions! We all know what to do to honour her. I wish I knew what she would want us to serve for lunch (though I suspect I already do know!) I love your hymn choice. I think you’re right – it’s best to have someone who knows it sing it loud and strong for everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Um, is it weird that now I want to come to your funeral? This is a wonderful slice & I feel like I know you much better after reading it. Caitlyn Doughty is already on my list, but I’m moving her up. And, as a lapsed-Lutheran myself, I fully approve of A Mighty Fortress is Our God. Excellent choice! Also, I’m just gonna say, if you want all that candy at your funeral, I don’t think it’s going to be in Austria – sounds like a States-side affair to me. Maybe I can come.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What an innovative and different post. Yes, I too felt I knew you w/just a few paragraphs. So much of you shines through here- from your passions- your musical tastes-to even your favorite candy. What a telling piece. Your post really got me thinking about my own service, and my own life and even my own purpose. Thank-you!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh my gosh! This is perhaps the best post I’ve ever read. Your tone is absolutely perfect for the subject at hand. Perhaps my favorite line is “hire an older Lutheran to sing it.” Spot on! Well done. Thanks for writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This slice is just everything. Moving and hilarious, heartfelt and sarcastic. It’s so hard to pull off those opposite tones, and you do it beautifully. I don’t even know which line I love most because there are so, so many.

    Liked by 1 person

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