On more than one occasion at Death Café I have been asked a very simple question and this is ‘What are your funeral plans?’. Shamefully I honestly answer that there aren’t any, or at least I haven’t made any complete decisions. I simply haven’t sat down and thought about it yet. When I do think about it for a short while, what I think of as ‘nice’ changes with the days. The most notable change is that some days I think donate everything to whoever needs it, but others I think a nice simple burial in a shroud with loads of bright flowers. Funnily, I never think extravagant or big even though daily I meet funeral directors through work who swear that the only way to go is a horse drawn carriage and the most expensive coffin on the market. However having finished reading The American Way of Death Revisited today I am realising it’s probably not in my nature to want a huge casket and the works.
By writing this, I’m hoping to at least give some form of impression of my final wishes or while typing I might actually arrive some kind of decision. I know exactly what I don’t want. I don’t want a coffin, but if you must then I’ll have cardboard or wicker because wood is an absolute waste. I don’t think I want traditional cremation in all honesty, it uses so much energy but I do quite like the idea of not taking up a plot somewhere and using unnecessary space. In that case, the alkaline hydrolysis which is not yet legal in the UK would be quite good and I hope that I live long enough for this to become legal if I decide that’s what I want. If I do end up as dust, I don’t mind taking up space in the back of a cupboard somewhere while you decide where to scatter me.
Thinking about it, I will put down some ideas here. When the time comes, just pick and choose from the options. I’m cool with all of the below, and besides, I won’t know any of it is happening so do what you want to do, thank you to future person who ends up arranging whatever it may be when I die!
- Donate my organs if I die in circumstances allowing. Donate my body to the London School of Anatomy if they will have it. There are a lot of criteria to fulfil, if they are even accepting anyone the week I die which they aren’t always. If none of that can happen, donate the bits I can whether that be eyes, skin, tissue, ligaments etc. or all of the above. Just take what you can! Sadly I know there are a lot of reasons why this may not be an option, but I’m on the organ donor register and quite willing to help the living with any working spare parts.
- Whatever’s left, either;
- Cremation or alkaline hydrolysis with no official ceremony. Scatter me over the park where I live, currently I’m preferring from the top of the big hill I have struggled to walk/run/cycle up so many times so I can be there forever in glory, and my family/friends will have to walk up it. Somewhere else is that’s not feasible (not just because you don’t want to walk up a big hill), and the hanging out in a cupboard still applies.
- Simple burial in a fabric shroud with a ridiculous amount of flowers and flower petals all around me. Natural burial woodland like that at Herongate but not necessarily there if space has run out.
- No ceremony somewhere that costs money but have a huge party at my house or someone else’s. I demand a cheap house party.
- Remember me with lots of gin and playing ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ by Simple Minds at least once (but preferably several times).
That was surprisingly easy once I’d put my mind to it. Lucky for me, people can read this and reference it should I die at some point. Don’t worry, I have no plans to die in the near future but as a death practical person I also totally accept it will happen one day and possibly sooner than we all think.
My real point with this post was to get you all thinking and starting those conversations with loved ones. It’s totally true that sometimes when these conversations become necessary and in the worst times of our lives they can be the hardest thing to undertake. However, to just let your wishes known one evening over a bottle of wine with your nearest and dearest can be an incredibly freeing and intimate conversation. In true death positive spirit I’m always up for a conversation about death but even if other people would rather talk about anything else on earth, it’s going to happen one day to us all so no harm in preparing for it!
Nothing like a death post to cheer up a grey August Bank Holiday Monday, as always please do get in touch if you would like to ask or discuss anything. Particularly if you have some interesting death plans.