My mother used to say, “When I die, just freeze me and pound me in the ground.” This is a great saying and honestly made me really think about what I wanted to be done when I died. Maybe that’s a morbid thing to talk about or think about, but honestly, it’s never been that big of a deal to me. My death is not the end of me. I know where I’m going and while I might not know all the details of what is going to happen, I am ready for it should it come soon. I do not fear death.
So I have been thinking about it for a long time now and I have realized that I am unlike many of my fellow West Virginians. The people of West Virginia value funerals… a lot. It is a big deal here. I however do not. While I understand why these rituals are valued, I myself do not value them at all. Well, let me step that back for a second. There is value to me, in that I see that they help people I care about go through the grieving process. That is valuable to me, but me personally, no.
I believe when I die, if my wife and children are still around (I hope), then I don’t want a funeral. I suppose that if the kids need something then that is fine, but honestly, I hope they don’t spend much money on it. If anything is needed to be done, then just have a picture of me up front at the church and have the pastor preach a short sermon. Then maybe people could bring some pot luck so people could eat and share memories of me, that would be great.
I have seen the bills that funerals leave behind. I don’t want to saddle my family with anything like that when I pass on. I don’t need a fancy coffin. I don’t need a new suit to wear. I don’t need formaldehyde in me to preserve me. In fact, I don’t need anything done to the body besides to get rid of it. That’s not me any longer. I am not in there. Who I am is no longer present with that husk. I am somewhere else, with someone else.
I understand that grief is a part of losing someone. I am okay with the grief, but it has nothing to do with my body. I have spent a little time looking into how to donate your body to science, but it seems like it is a more complicated idea than I first thought. It’s not like being an organ donor, where you just check the box and it’s taken care of. There’s a little more to it apparently. I need to spend some more time investigating it. I would rather allow my body to help future doctors learn than to make it all “pretty” so people can gawk at my body and say things like, “He looks so natural.” Yeah, I’m a fan of that.
Death, for me, is not a loss. Sure I don’t want to have it happen any time soon, there’s still a lot left to do on this plane, but neither do I shy away from it. I’m not worried about it. When I was younger, there was certainly some existential dread going on, but I think that was because I felt like there was still so much left to do. Much of those desires have been fulfilled for me. Let’s look at some of those, I got to marry the love of my life, and our life together has been fantastic so far and as much as I can tell, it will be for the future as well. I have three amazing kids who are already turning out fantastic. Now of course there’s a lot left to do with them, but they are here and will continue to be as fantastic as they are now, I have no doubt. I guess in the end, as my Momma said, “Just freeze me and pound me in the ground.”
D. Michl Lowe