My grandmother was sprinkled at sea. A very good (and illegal) way to go, I thought. But that was my grandma: a smoker of “medical” marijuana till the day she died and a law breaker in death. I love death. Not in a morbid way, I hope, but in a normal, fatalistic way. I’m going to die and that’s okay. I think my deathly obsession may spawn from my fascination with funerals and with cemeteries.
I once planned my own funeral. I knew the the location (a museum), the food (a mexican buffet), the flowers (a healthy mix of anything yellow), the music (an amalgamation of my eclectic taste: The Beatles, Radiohead, Elton John, The Sound of Music), the invite list (anyone who wants to attend), and the speakers (family and friends, maybe a student I had an impact on). But what of my eulogy?Who would write it? Who would shrink the aspects of my lifetime into a brief speech? After deliberating, I decided that I wanted to be the one to write my eulogy. I have been so committed for so long to only showing certain parts of myself that the thought of someone else displaying my true self in my wake bothers me.
And that’s when I realized that all of that planning is me attempting to micro-manage my public persona, even in death. I must be a control freak.
But no matter. All you lifelong friends listen up!
My funeral will not be a time for mourning, but rather a celebration of life and of love. There will be a cemetery, of course, but there will be no burial (I choose to go out as my grandma did, minus, most-likely, the marijuana.) Instead, my loved ones will visit a cemetery and enjoy it, Erin-style. How would one go about doing that? I’m so glad you asked…
- Pick a cemetery, preferably one where more than 20 people are buried.
- Visit the website or give the cemetery receptionist (a much more lively person than you would think) a call and find out if there is listed information about the buried. If yes, proceed to step three. If no, go back to step one.
- Study the list and make your own of the people that you would like to visit.
- Stop by your local flower shop and purchase a bouquet of flowers. One flower will go to each person visited, so try to avoid the tempting offer to have your selection “bundled for no extra cost.”
- Once at the cemetery, get your hands on the “plot map” and start your rotation of the dead.
- The following steps apply for each grave visited:
- Greet the departed.
- Read the headstone aloud. Is this person a parent? A husband/wife? How old did he/she live to be? Are there any interesting quotes?
- Read the information you previously acquired from the Internet or receptionist about this person.
- Look around at the surrounding graves to determine whether this person was buried alone or amongst his/her loved ones.
- Use your imagination. This is the best part, so don’t spoil it! Consider everything you now know about this person and give them a life. Give them character and quirks and careers and dreams. Give them a life and a death and a reason for making this cemetery, your cemetery, their final resting place.
- Pick a flower from your un-bundled bouquet and place it on the grave. If you are ambitious and wish to truly do it Erin-style, you will consider all of the flowers you hold in your hands and pick the one that is right for him/her. Flowers are like snowflakes, after all: No two are the same. Perhaps a full bloom is a reflection of a lived life. Or a crinkled edge shows a gruesome death. Chances are, you will know it immediately because of the intimate relationship you have now built with a complete stranger.
- Wish your new friend a good afterlife. This step will vary depending on the religious beliefs of the visitor.
- Move on to your next awaiting friend.
As a side note, a visit to the cemetery is much more enjoyable when alone or with someone you consider “special” and can be done at any time, not just after my death.
So there they are. My funeral arangements. At least I know that if I were to die today, someone would know my wishes and would hopefully fulfill them with close accuracy…don’t forget that I’m a control freak.
I am Erin Hoover, by the by. I will be writing to you on Thursdays. And try not to worry, my posts will not all be about death (hopefully).