I decided in my twenties that when I die, I’ll be cremated.
I hate funerals. Especially open caskets. I hate the stress for the family if there are lots of visitors and I feel sad when there are few. I wonder how loved-ones can tell the story of sickness, death, or injury over and over again to all the visitors.
It seems like way too much for the loved-ones to hear, “Doesn’t she look good?” I think to myself, no, she looks dead; no, she doesn’t look like she’s sleeping. Who sleeps clutching a rosary and with their glasses on? And what about that half-smile? That looks nothing like he looked like in life.
I don’t like the idea of anyone tending my grave, either. A chore for a loved-one after my death; the place where my body lies, which is no longer me. I want people to remember me as I was living, not how I was when I died. I loathe the idea of being a chore.
I realize as I get older that funerals help with the grieving process. It gives a certain closure; a reality to the death; a chance to say goodby. Most importantly, It gives friends and family a chance to tell wonderful stories to those left behind. I never heard anyone bad-mouthed or gossiped about at his funeral.
Somewhere in my teens I read a poem about the first North Pole explorer who died in the icy cold and carried out by his dogsled. Thanks to YouTube, I found a recording of Johnny Cash reciting “The Cremation of Sam McGee” by Robert W. Service. (Please click on the picture to hear the poem and see more great illustrations.)
I love the idea of my remains roasting. One final last heating blanket keeping me toasty warm. No cold, dark grave for me. That’s another thing I hate: the cold.
But what about the ashes?
Too many friends are at a loss once their loved-one is in the urn. One fellow carried his dad around in his trunk for months trying to decide what to do with his ashes. On the mantle? In a drawer? Food for the roses?
I don’t want my ashes scattered. First off, if I’m scatter all over creation, it might take me too long to pull myself together on the Last Day. I don’t want to miss the bus because I’m still finding myself.
Besides, I’ve heard too many horror stories about a breeze catching the scattered ashes and blowing them wrong way: into faces, into shirts and sweaters, or into the hair of passersby.
I could have the ashes secretly buried in the back yard. It’s illegal to bury them in a non-sanctioned place, even though many people do. No, that’s a little bit too much like a pet. What if Loved-One decides to move? Would he dig me up and take me with him? Maybe the ashes could be buried on the farm where I grew up. What if a subdivision supplants the farm?
I thought I found the perfect solution. I can have my ashes converted to diamonds. The more of me there is, the more, and bigger diamonds I’ll create. The more fat and less muscle, the clearer the diamond will be. Perfect. I can be useful, even unto death. It costs about the same amount as a funeral.
My daughter was absolutely appalled.
“You could make a necklace out of the diamond. Or a pair of earrings.”
“What if I lose you? What if someone steals you?”
“You could pass the diamond down to your children and grandchildren. Your son could have a nice diamond for an engagement ring some day.”
It seemed like a sweet sentiment, until we began to bounce the reality of that idea around a little.
“I love you. Will you marry me. I have a special diamond ring. It’s my grandmother.”
“How sweet, your grandmother’s diamond ring.”
“No it IS my grandmother.”
And what if the engagement gets called off.
“I’d like my grandmother back, please.”
Yeah. No. Maybe I better give it some more thought. Back to the drawing board.