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."