If you were to die tomorrow, would your family know what to do? Have you made a plan for your final exit? Do you want to be buried? Cremated? How about donating your body to science? Do you want to have a memorial service? And if so, do you want an open casket? Or do you want to keep it closed with a terrific picture of you? Do you want music? Do you want someone to read a favorite poem? Do you want people to mourn or celebrate your passing? It's a lot to think about. Here's a place you can plan your funeral, because as they say on their website, "You only get one chance to make a last impression."
There's a book coming out this month called "Making an Exit" by Sarah Murray, a journalist and writer, who investigated different cultures and the ways in which they dignify their dead. I haven't read it yet, but I plan on doing so. I've always been interested in the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico. Maybe one day I'll get to see one.
I recently spoke with my dad about his wishes. He said he wanted to be cremated with a headstone at Arlington National Cemetery. He's a Korean War veteran. I did a little research for him and I think he may change his mind. Ever the penny pincher, he was under the impression that he wouldn't have to foot the bill for anything, but he was wrong. The family still has to pay for the body to be cremated or prepared for burial and then there's the shipping to Arlington. He may decide to stay close to home.
My mom and her husband have the same plans. Apparently, my mom's sister and her husband are buried at Arlington and even in death, I think she wants to be "close" to her family.
As for myself, I want to be cremated and scattered someplace I like. Maybe the Rocky Mountains, the Marin headlands, or possibly an outdoor ashtray at the Ritz Carlton, if they still exist. Now that would be classy! I don't want anyone holding onto them and placing them on their mantle. The thought of myself looking like cat litter and stuck inside a little urn being moved around from place to place throughout the years seems utterly ridiculous. I want people to remember me in their minds.
What about you? You don't have to answer here, but I encourage you to talk about it with the people you love. Their answers may surprise you. And best of all, it's one less thing you have to worry about.