Death. Is there any one of us who likes to think about it? What do we want? If we talk about it, will it happen? Does anyone really like to think about a bunch of people standing around your coffin talking about how lifelike you look? Do we keep the casket open? Closed? One day wake? Two Day? Do we wait for Aunt Sally to make it from the other coast? What do we do and why should our loved ones have to deal with all of that while dealing with a loss? Personally, I’d rather a party in my honor.
Not to be disrespectful to any of the deceased but I never really understood the whole wake/funeral thing. I’ve been to many myself, and I know we’ve all been to those where we really didn’t know the person well and were going out of some obligation to an acquaintance or loved one but were dreading it or had some kind of better plans. We’ve all had the conversation that goes like this so when are you going? Are you going to the afternoon or night? I had plans that night…..do you think it would be ok if I went early so I could still make them? I know. The horror. That the living actually had plans that they planned before knowing they’d have a wake to attend.
That’s really what got me to thinking. I’ve always thought about it but more so lately. I don’t want people to feel obligated. Skipping out on plans or coming out of some sense of obligation isn’t a sign of respect. If anything, I’d want you to go have fun. Do whatever it is that you’d prefer to do. Anything has to be more fun than sitting in a room with a dead body talking about how nicely they made it look.
I don’t want people worrying about what to wear. Is white ok? Color? No. Come in your pajamas, shorts, a tee shirt. Hopefully I’m wearing angel wings and your attire won’t make any difference if I’m not.
Come and tell my kids why you loved me. Come and tell them some funny story that you remember and no, I don’t care if it’s the time we drank too much and you had to hold my hair back while I threw up. I want my kids to know that I was human and fun and that people loved me. I hope they already know that, but just in case….
No clergy needed. My relationship and conversations with God were private and I don’t need some man I’ve never met in my entire life standing before a room full of my loved ones talking about me with information provided on a questionnaire. I’d hate to think of my life being reduced to ten questions. It was so much more. I may not have cured cancer or climbed Mount Everest, but I’m sure there are plenty of stories, hopefully nothing caught on tape.
Please skip the flowers. Spend the money on a kid who has cancer or a single mom who’s worried where her kids’ next meal will come from. Spend it on yourself and enjoy a nice dinner or a great bottle of wine. Or better yet, buy someone you love a beautiful bouquet that they can look at and enjoy while they’re living. I hear heaven is gorgeous and full of flowers so I don’t think I’ll need more.
What I’d hope is that people would realize how precious life is. There’s a time for tears and a time to dry them and enjoy whatever time you’ve got because the thing is, we don’t know how much time we’ve got. None of us do. I knew a woman who was told she had six months and she lived six more years. She went to more funerals in those six years than anyone I know.
Finally, I want anyone who comes, and those who don’t, to forgive a grudge, mend a fence, and let go of a hurt. I don’t care if my kids do an open casket with the worst makeup job. Look at my clown makeup and realize that could be you in there and that no fight or grievance is worth taking to the afterlife. Even if you don’t believe in an afterlife, look at the clown face and know that life is short. Too short. Enjoy every second and love everyone you can. That’s what it’s all about.
One more thing. If there is a church service, and God, I hope there isn’t, don’t take the screaming kids out. Those screaming kids are examples that life going on, and when you lose someone you love, there is no better thing than proof of that.