Thursday, April 21, 2011

It's A Morbid Day In The Neighborhood

You wouldn't believe this, but I am extremely tenderhearted. My parents used to say I wore my feelings "on my coat's sleeve". I find myself to be moved by the plight of others. Never is this more evident than when I am at a funeral. I always cry, no matter whose funeral it is. I cry for the what-might-have-beens, and because the family is experiencing such loss. I can easily put myself in their position and think about how I would feel.

Which is why putting our wills together the last few days and discussing our final arrangements has been, well, such a downer. Planning who will take care of my children (and asking those people!), planning who will manage the inheritance those children would get (and asking those people!) has put a cloud over my head. Putting together Health Care Directives about end of life issues has left me feeling gloomy. Artificial nutrition and hydration? Or not? Autopsy or not? Who will make sure my wishes are carried out if Brian is not here?

Did you know you can have a cremation service? Where your loved ones can gather round a window and watch "the placement of the person's casket in the cremation chamber"? In industry-speak, it's called a "committal ceremony" and it replaces the graveside service for someone who wishes it to be cremated. Of course, unlike a burial, in a few days, your loved one is back in your possession, weighing about 4-6 pounds.

I do have a morbid streak, a fascination with the ins and outs of the funeral industry, and have for years, but the committal ceremony, witnessing your loved one being placed in an oven is too much, even for me. When my mother died, I remember how weird and creeped out I felt being at the funeral home, making her arrangements, knowing she was behind a closed door having God knows what done to her. I know she would have died all over again knowing Doug Martin had seen her naked. I guess it's a good thing these indignities happen when we can no longer protest.

When my mother's body was finally ready to be viewed, my father, brother and I stepped up to the casket, made out of Texas pecan wood, and looked at her. It was true: she looked years younger and always fabulous in red, her favorite color. In the stillness and silence of that moment, we heard a beeping. Standing by the casket, in the silence, it could be heard plainly. It was the pain pump that had been inserted into her body years before in order to handle the constant pain she had from an old on-the-job injury. It seemed comical at that point in time that while her body had given up, there was her morphine pump, dependably pumping morphine. It gave us a private laugh at a time one was needed.

I am going home next weekend and while I am there, I will go to the funeral home and do some pre-planning. I will visit the cemetery where I plan to be buried and pick out a plot. I am hoping to do this now, and never have to think about it again. Because all of the hard stuff will be done and arranged and my heirs, whoever they may be, will know what I want. And if any of you are still around after I am gone, please make sure one of my final wishes is carried out, as described here, over 2 years ago.


Oilfield Trash said...

You just reminded me that I also need to do the "planning".

Overthinking Mama said...

you sound so much like me...

i have a slight facination with the whole funeral process.. i once wanted to be the person who put the make up and does the hair of the deceased person.
i also worked at a cemetery for a bit... and enjoyed it.. lol. i just hated my coworkers there!!

i keep putting off all the preplanning :-(

Anonymous said...

He who imagines he can do without the world deceives himself much; but he who fancies the world cannot do without him is still more mistaken.