Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Stop the music!

Death talk #3

Here's one from my goofychurchstuff blog way back in 2008. 

 I attended a traditional funeral service yesterday ... hymns, prayers, bible readings, nice eulogy, the whole thing.  I liked it. Some of services where they play the deceased's favorite music are a bit hard to take. I know this gets into the thing about whether funerals are for the departed or the ones still here.  It's mostly for friends and family to share memories.  But I still don't want to hear ear busting rock or twangin' country. Let's assume the departed one is listening to his or her favorite music in heaven, so don't make me hear it here, OK?

That was seven years ago and and I continue to have some hare-brained ideas about my memorial service.  For a while it would be in the theater downtown with a special friend who was a  young theater organ prodigy playing the pipe organ. Then I was going to record a message to be played.  Music  ranged from sentimental old standard popular songs to Christian hymns and good old gospel songs. I don't think I had a favorite clergy person in mind to send me on my way. Well maybe online preacher friend John Keener but he's in Montana. My own recorded modest and humble eulogy would do it better anyway. I just got another idea.  I was on a local radio polka show the other day. Wouldn't it be fun for friends and family to listen to two hours of polka music along with my reminiscing?  Not much.

Have no fear, it's not going to happen that way. There will be no service. Please do not complain that you were deprived of the opportunity to get together and say nice things about me.  Just send me a smile, thinking of what a grand production it might have been and thanking me for not making you sit through it.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Good Heavens

Post #2 in this ongoing series that I hope keeps going on.--------------------------------------------

There won't be much about the religious or spiritual aspect of death here.  Whatever thoughts I have about that are in another blog. On this one I play the role of a generally objective observer of the thoughts, feeling, attitudes, customs and practices that surround the inevitable thing we call death.

I don't know how many of us believe heaven is a place in the sky where we go when we die. Whether you believe it or not, haven't you spoken of a departed loved one "looking down" on us? But we say it only when something good is happening down here. I don't recall saying it when I'm up to something that I do not want to be seen on the big screen heavenly TV up there. I don't want my late wife to know that I have not cleaned the pile of snow off off the bird feeder and fed  the creatures she loved to watch. On the other hand, the thought that she might see it is enough to get me out there and doing what needs to be done.

Monday, February 2, 2015

It's a long long road.

My wife died in mid-December of 2013, just short of what would have been our 60th anniversary.  You don't need to do much math to figure out that I've got a lot of miles on my odometer.  I have attended more funerals and memorial services than I care to count. It's not quite right to say it gets easier but it does change.  My thoughts and feelings about death are vastly different than they were 60, 40, 20 years ago or even just months ago. I am not overcome with grief, but able to find something good and positive about the deceased.

When you have racked up as many miles down the road of life as I have, you think about your own death.  And  your mind changes about that, too. With each funeral or memorial service that I experience I find myself thinking,  "do I want something like this when my time comes?"
I'm glad that my earlier notions about  the kind of going away party I wanted were not set in stone.  They reflected the place in my life where I was at that time.  I'm not there anymore.  In a future post I will talk about the new twenty-first century end-of-life observances that look pretty radical if there is any of the traditionalist in you.

When my wife died there was cremation and no service.  That's how it will be when my time comes.  It has all been arranged and paid for.  There are those who have a hard time accepting that. I attended a service where the closed casket was empty.  I knew about it because the minister who conducted the service was a friend.  He told me the family was seriously divided about cremation and the branch that believed the deceased wanted it that way managed to avoid a big family fight with the empty coffin.  I certainly don't recommend anything like that but that story illustrates why it is so important to talk about death and take care of end of life details before it happens. If that family had argued about it and perhaps come to some kind of compromise before they lost their loved one,  the dangerous and deceitful thing with the empty casket would not have happened. That was many years ago and  I don't know if part of the family lived with the secret or it was revealed.

The worst possible time to deal with all the details and decisions about a death is when it happens.  The TADRN in this blog's address stands for "Talk about death right now."