I recently finished reading If I Stay by Gayle Forman. Though not what I initially expected from the YA book, the story touched me deeply. 17 year old Mia is in an accident on a snowy road which takes the lives of both of her parents and younger brother. Caught in limbo (and watching herself lie in a coma), Mia discovers she must make the choice whether to stay and continue her life on Earth or continue on into the next unknown step of death. The book makes no assumptions or claims about what comes next, focusing only on the important choice all individuals make daily of whether to keep living.
“Dying is easy. It’s living that’s hard.”
Because of this book, I started thinking about my own funeral. I know the thought may seem morbid to many of you, but in all honesty I’m a control-freak, and I plan on continuing that well after my body leaves this Earth. In my mind, a funeral should be about the person who has passed. I recognize that in many times, the funeral is more for those who were left behind than the one who left, but I think that to truly honor the dead their wishes should be respected. My own father wished to be cremated, but my grandmother couldn’t bear the thought of it. So, in a casket 6 ft under is where he now rests, even though it wasn’t what he would have wanted. And the sounds of the funeral were nothing to his musical taste. So, in order to avoid looking down from Heaven in disgust at my own funeral (and the crowds of people who “knew” me but never really cared about me until I died), I sat down and thought about what I would actually want to see.
First, I do NOT want to be cremated. I also don’t want a ridiculously expensive casket lined with silk. Just something simple. I want to look more into these “green” funerals I hear so much about, where you’re buried under a tree and your body decomposes back into the Earth as nutrients for the soil. (Again, I apologize if that seems too grotesque for you.) Tombstones are not something I have thought much about, other than whether I would want a joint headstone with my husband. I think I’m leaning towards no, unless I’m very old when I die. If we are still young, I would want my husband to have the opportunity to find happiness with another rather than remain alone for the rest of his life (even 20 years can be a long time when you’re alone!). Then would come complications over which love he would be buried next to, and that’s not something I would want to burden another family with.
Secondly, I do not want my funeral to be a sad event. Most of the time, you’re mourning for yourself anyway–for what you have lost through my death. I, however, will be gaining much more than this world could ever have to offer. I fully believe in the existence of Heaven. That being said, a few thoughts about the actual funeral:
- NO BLACK. Navy blue is alright, but I’d prefer only my close close family wear this if they feel absolutely compelled. Bright colors, people! Celebrate the next journey I have gone on to meet Jesus. NO JEANS. NO COWBOY BOOTS. Seriously, there are times when showing respect through clothing is necessary. Weddings and funerals are two places where it is absolutely not acceptable to wear anything but your best clothing. And if jeans are your best, I suggest a visit to the local Goodwill to pick up a pair of $2 khakis and a tie.
- I only want the altar arrangement/casket arrangement. Lilies and orchids. Unless it is winter and these are ridiculously expensive. Otherwise, use the $$ to make donations to charities in my honor. Let my death help other people, not be adorned in selfishness and sorrow.
- If individuals could not take the time out of their lives to speak to me or be pleasant while I was alive, I would not want them at my funeral. Just like with the dress code, there are occasions where gossip and spectacle are not welcome. Funerals are one of them. Come for me, not for yourself or to be “seen” at the scene.
- As far as songs, don’t play stuffy organ music. I love Amazing Grace (most versions), and would prefer upbeat songs to be played. A few options include Walk With You by Della Reese and You Were Loved by Wynona (not the Whitney Houston version).
Just getting a few of my thoughts out. I think that’s the purpose of books–to make you think. About the world, about others, about yourself. Everything is connected, and navigating through the many events we undergo in this life is part of the fun! Of course plans will always be altered, but just having the ability to think about the future makes me feel blessed with each day I am given. Realistically, I know it all will come to an end, and I’d like to be as prepared as possible.
This was a rambling post, most certainly, but fun to write.