Because I have a somewhat morbid sense of humor and a frequent tendency to muse on the darker side of life and death , it ought to come as no surprise that recently while spending some time chatting with people at the memorial service for a friend of mine that my mind was easily turned to thinking about my funeral. Perhaps most people do not think of funerals, but I have thought very much of the sort of funeral that I would want for myself. Seeing as no one is likely to care as much about my funeral as I am myself, I thought it would be worthwhile at least to post my own observations and thoughts of what kind of funeral and memorial service I would want for myself so that, at least until and unless such thoughts are revised, those who know me would be able to know my own thoughts about funerals, as I have certainly seen enough of them to have some idea about what sort of ceremony I would most appreciate to honor my memory.
One thing I do not happen to know at present with any degree of confidence is where I would be buried. My family is on the other side of the United States, and I have little particular interest at this time in being buried either in Western Pennsylvania where my father’s side of the family is buried nor in Central Florida, although either Plant City or Tampa could make a strong case based on how long I have lived in both places over the course of my life. Given that I have no claim on any sort of military cemetery nor am I a famous enough person to have the sort of grave that would be frequently visited by anyone, it likely matters little where I am placed in the ground, as I cannot imagine there being too much occasion for people to beautify it with flowers. One thing I do care a lot about, though, is the epitaph on the tomb, seeing as I have written my own , a poem I wrote in Spanish almost a decade ago and one that I cannot see being any less a description of my life based on how things have gone so far:
Vivir es sufir.
Morir es dormir.
Aquí no surfrirè nada más.
Así dèjame dormir en paz.
Translated, this means:
To live is to suffer.
To die is to sleep.
Here I will suffer nothing more.
So let me sleep in peace.
Another thing I care a great deal about concerning the funeral or memorial service is the sort of message that is given. No matter where it is that I commend my spirit to God and breathe my last, I can trust that the local pastor around would likely be able to give a message that would express my own views about death. My epitaph would make it clear that I view death as a sleep and that I would want to sleep in peace. I have particularly fierce views about the need to respect the dead and to let them sleep in the grave with honor, even if the lives lived by those people were not necessarily the most honorable. Our own sense of honor is most in evidence based on our treatment of those to whom we could do whatever we wished because they have no power to stop us, and that is as true of the dead as it is of small children. Aside from that, I want at least some large part of the ceremony to contain a substantial biographical sketch about my life. I would expect that wherever it is I breathe my last, it will be done around people who may not be aware of my own personal story and the course my life has taken, and I would like those who honor me at my funeral to at least have some idea of the life I lived, as they are not likely to know.
In addition to this, I have some rather specific ideas about the sort of music I want to have played in memory of me. For the slideshow of whatever photos someone is able to rustle up of me, not an easy task given that I am not the sort of person most fond of the camera, I would want a rather melancholy set of songs to be played, played in generally chronological order, with songs like: “Somewhere Out There” by Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram, “Kiss From A Rose,” by Seal, “This Side Of Paradise,” by Bryan Adams, and “The Call” by Regina Spektor . In addition to this, I would want there to be singing at a memorial service. For one, I would want “Thanks Be To Thee,” attributed (falsely) to G.F. Handel , as well as the song “This Is My Word” . Why shouldn’t people sing at my memorial service, given how important music has been over the course of my life? Of course, I don’t have any ideas about what sort of flowers I would want, although I would want something symbolic of my existence.
There is one more thing that I would think of the utmost importance, aside from having an opportunity for people to share their memories and thoughts of my life, is for there to be some sort of celebratory aspect to it. Aside from food, I would think it worthwhile for there to be some sort of dancing as well. The habit of having a wake, a celebratory party, is somewhat appealing as well as a way to close out the affair. Given the general melancholy gloom that death and the thought and reflection on death has, it is worthwhile for there to be something worth celebrating as well for those who are alive. After all, given the amount of sorrow and suffering I have known over the course of my life, something which does not appear likely to stop for as long as I live, there ought to be at least something to celebrate in that suffering and torment being over, and knowing that the next moment of life will be something better than this mortal life was able to provide. Why not celebrate that? Those who are inclined to mourn my passing will have plenty of time to mourn it in the days and years that follow my demise, whenever it happens to be.
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