Posts Tagged ‘Dos and Dont’s of Death and Dying’

I know, greatest blog title ever, amirite? You’re welcome.1

Anywho, this is something that’s been on my mind lately so I thought it was time to unleash.  I do understand folks have different opinions on these types of things, so apologies in advance to those about to be offended.

Alrighty then. Let’s take a deep breath and begin with my list of dos and don’ts of dying . . .

The Don’ts

For the love of all that is holy, if I die in a fiery car crash do not put up one of those roadside memorials at the scene of my demise. For the life of me I don’t understand or comprehend why people do this. Why would I want flowers, signs, notes, teddy bears and God-knows-what-else at the location where my head went through the windshield or steering column went through my oral cavity? Thanks but no thanks.

Do not dedicate a sporting event to me or say that you won a game for me. Doesn’t it sort of cheapen a life when we use it as inspiration to win a basketball game? Good Lord. And don’t point to the sky in honor of me after a big touchdown run or game-winning shot either. Besides, you might be pointing in the wrong direction. The same goes for black armbands or buttons with my picture on there. On the other hand, a really cool t-shirt might be nice. Note to self: Design “Shoe Death Party” t-shirts post haste.

Do not get on my Facebook page and talk to me as if I’m still here. That’s just creepy. Telling a funny or inspirational story (if there is such a thing) about me is fine, but please, no “Dave, a horsefly landed on my nose today and I knew it was you paying me a visit” or some such nonsense like that. I mean, really? On the other hand, depending on the person that horsefly on the nose might just be me after all.

Do not go overboard with the sympathy thing. There’s nothing worse than somebody who barely knew the deceased standing there wailing as if they were best friends.

Do not show up at my funeral if you didn’t like me when I was alive and kickin’. I shall have a list of my enemies posted at the door with strict instructions for my friend Tom to beat the crap out of you if you do. And he will do it.

The Dos

Do let me go. If I’m on my death bed with no hope of making it, for God’s sake let me go. Pull the damn plug as they say. I’m a firm believer in assisted suicide in these cases. Just let everyone say their goodbyes, whisper to me how awesome I was in life, pat me on the head, go have an adult beverage and tell funny stories about all the stupid things I did in my life. It saves money, time and grief for all involved, most importantly me.

Do cremate me, please. I’ve never been comfortable (but who really is?) with the ritual of lining up to view the dead body. Despite what people always say, the deceased never looks good. They look dead. And tell the truth. Aren’t you always slightly afraid the person’s going to open their eyes and look right at you? If you didn’t before you will now. Anyway, just put a really flattering photo of me smiling and looking good from back in my heyday. Wait. Did I ever have a heyday? Never mind. Then just take my ash-filled urn with you to all the big parties or bars you go to, sit me on the middle of the table, and clink your bottle on me from time-to-time. Just don’t get drunk and leave me at the bar. I’d hate to end up in the dumpster behind Jerry’s West.

Do play good music at my memorial (Is memorial the right word? It won’t be a viewing because there’ll be nothing to view. A wake? The mind reels). The Beatles, R.E.M., The Avetts, Zevon, a little Alice Cooper, The Eels, you know the drill. No “church music” if you will. No offense, folks, but everyone will be a little down anyway, so “Bringing in the Sheaves” ain’t gonna help. Besides, I don’t know what a sheave is so I don’t want it brought in. Alice’s “Muscle of Love” on the other hand . . .

Do let my friends stand up and say a few words about me. I’m talking about the friends who have loved me unconditionally, even when I’ve been an uncaring ass who has made some incredibly stupid life decisions, usually involving women. You know who you are, and I know you’ll speak the truth. More importantly, you’ll know what to leave out.

Finally, and I really have to be careful here, it bothers me when I go to a funeral and the preacher turns it into a sermon and even an alter call. I have a couple problems with this. Number one, there are many people there who aren’t normally a part of the congregation, so it’s sort of a captive audience if you will. It seems like the preacher wants to take advantage of this to do his thing. Well, not everybody attending wants to hear it. They didn’t come to hear you preach. They want to hear about the person who died. Is that too much to ask?

Secondly, it seems to me to be a sort of emotional blackmail to ask people, when they are at their lowest point emotionally, to make a major life decision regarding something as important as religion. Shouldn’t decisions like that should be made by those whose heads are level and minds are clear, and not in such a vulnerable state of grief?

It seems to me the proper thing to do would be to talk about the deceased, tell some stories about his life and what made him or her special. That’s what I want to hear. Then, maybe inform folks that there will be a religious service following if they want to stick around? Just throwin’ it out there.

I guess an exception to this would be when it’s a specific request of the deceased, but even then I think it’s a bad idea.

I really can’t think of a way to wrap this up, other than to say I hope to hell it won’t be relevant for a long time. It reminds me of that George Carlin quote when he was on Carson back in the day. George was 39 at the time and Johnny asked him what he wanted people to be saying about him in a hundred years. Carlin’s answer?

“I want them to say ‘That man is 139-years old.’”

My feelings exactly.

If I do go, though, I hope it’s quick, maybe like one of my favorite poets, Dylan Thomas. His last words:

“I’ve had 18 straight whiskies……I think that’s the record.”

That would be my second favorite way to go.

PS – disclaimer