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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.