I’m dying . . . but then, so are you. I am not trying to be morbid, but people seem uncomfortable when hearing words surrounded by the words death or dying. It will happen to all of us, but none of us really talk about it. If I do talk about it, even in general terms, like about funeral practices of our and other cultures, I have a feeling people are uncomfortable. I do find the subject rather fascinating.
From the day we are born, every day is one day subtracted from our life, as we are all going to die one day. No one gets to escape that reality. So, why is it that we don’t talk about it?
I would like to think that my children know what I want done when I die, but they don’t. We have never had that discussion. Jokes are made around nursing homes and death, but no real discussion is made. Actually, I would be totally comfortable if one or all of my children would ask me what I would like to see happen when I died.
A number of years ago my sister told me that our dad’s second wife was very frustrated that when she asked our dad about what he wanted. He would tell her to put him in a big plastic bag, and place him in the garbage can at the end of the driveway. Yeah, that was my dad’s humor. When he lived in Missouri his favorite answer was to put him in a big plastic bag with a bunch of rocks and throw him in the Mississippi. So, when my sister was moving from the same town as my dad and his wife, going across the country, this was when that discussion happened. Well, I don’t think it was a discussion. She just told my dad that he needed to make his plans, so his wife didn’t have to worry about them. Although, my dad lived several years after this, that year he made his funeral arrangements—at least the logistical part. He lived in Arizona, but wanted to be buried with my mom (their marriage was 53 years long) at the National Cemetery in St. Louis. Because he also lived in Arizona, and had been married for eleven years to his second wife at his death, he wanted a service in Arizona because they had a lot of family, and he made a lot of friends there. Then he was shipped to Missouri for his burial at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. By the way, his 2nd wife was okay with this arrangement, and she is still with us 9 years after his passing. What my dad didn’t do is tell us was what he wanted for the actual services. I shall not complain, because he actually made his arrangements with the Phoenix and St. Louis mortuaries, and prepaid all of that.
Why don’t we have these discussions? Why don’t we at least write down what we would like. I plan to be around at least another 25 years—that would put me at 95 years old. It’s possible. I have several family members live into the 90’s and even hit 100. But, it could also happen tomorrow. We have no guarantees. It could be a sudden illness or an accident, but sometimes life ends abruptly. No talks about that at all. If we discuss death, it’s usually about “when I get really old and die . . . .”
My mom used to talk about her three score and ten. What was that? There is a verse in the Bible that states that we live three score and ten which is equal to 70. My mom was almost 77 when she died, and she always said that she got a few extra years there! Some of us get more, and some of us get less. Who’s counting? We go on day to day expecting to be here tomorrow, next week, next month, and even next year and more years. We should think that way. If we did not, we would never make plans. We would never strive to do more or see more. We were created to want to live. God is the giver of life, and being made in his image, we are also creators, and want life. That is why we see beauty, art, and music all around us—it is the creator in us, and we also want to see life at its best—why we fight illness to be well and healthy. That is part of being in the image of God.
God was about life, and life abundantly, so we are created to want to live more, and want to do more. Therefore, talking about all that ending is contrary to our nature. We are uncomfortable having those discussions.
I’m not even talking about what happens to us when we die. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I believe I will be in the presence of God at my death. It will be far better than what my life is here on earth.
Recently, I ran across a Youtube of “Ask a Mortician.” It is an interesting site. The young lady, an actual mortician, explains many things that surround death and the process, especially in the United States. She has a bit of dark humor, but I think her videos are still respectful and enlightening. It has made me think about the logistics of death. It has also made me think about what I would like to have my family do if I pass away sooner or later. I don’t have all these answers, but I am definitely not afraid to deal with them, talk about them, and even plan them.
In the meantime, I am going to live life to the fullest, because that is how I believe God has created me. I am 70 years old, and am just starting to live and seek continual new adventures—one is never too old to do that. One might become too unhealthy to do that, but as long as I am healthy, I will go forward and discover! One day that might end, but in the meantime, I chose life!
This is a very interesting entry to your blog. My children get uncomfortable when I speak about death. Living in AZ in a 55+ community for almost 20 years, a number of our friends have died; some quickly and some quite uncomfortable and drawn out. But I have told my kids for years that I want to be cremated and have my ashes spread over some of the rose farms around here. But about a month ago, Mike told me that they can now make a diamond out of someone’s ashes and a LOT of pressure. What a nice way to be remembered! At any rate, you have reminded me that I need to let my kids know what I would like for my “celebration of life” Thanks for the thoughtful words.
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It is a perplexing decision. Cremation is kind of creepy because I am not expecting fire and brimstone, and that kind of is like that! “Green” cremation is like getting boiled! Then becoming a diamond is a lot of “stress,” and I have already have had enough of that in my life! Decisions, decisions!