I Often Think of Death

I Often Think of Death
I often think of death.  Not death in general, but the death of my husband.  It’s often stupid selfish things like, who will bring me tea in the morning?  What will I do with all of his model kits of half-naked cyborg/ insect women? 

A small sample of my husband’s charmingly disturbing model kits.

Who will be my IT man when the Mac is once again hiding a file that I KNOW I saved right where I meant to save it?  However, there is one question that really haunted me until last night: What will I do with Dan’s body when he dies?

I hope most of you have never had to think about this, but for those of us dealing with glioblastoma, there is no way to get away from it.  It is always hanging over our heads, a giant casket shaped anvil ready to drop at the slightest hint of a glowingMRI.  To clarify, there is no good reason for me to be obsessed with Dan’s funeral.  Other than the epilepsy and the effects of his four anti-seizure meds, he is doing great.  But, for some reason I felt like Dan’s funeral was unfinished business; in order for me to be at peace, I needed to have all the details worked out.  Maybe I just didn’t want to be caught at an emotionally devastating time trying to figure out something that was so important.  I also did not want to leave his funeral for someone else to plan that may try to impose his or her personal religious beliefs. Dan is not religious and the last thing he would want is a preacher that he had never met, talking about a man he never knew, fervently describing the golden gates of the place Dan would never go due to his “heathen” ways.  To complicate matters, Dan wants to be cremated…well… actually, he would like to be burned on a giant funeral pyre set afloat on the Mediterranean but…

Oh no…my husband IS that cool.

I don’t think that’s legal.

So we’re back to a nice no frills, wham bam in the oven ma’am, kind of funeral, which basically means no funeral at all.  The alternative would be a viewing in a stiff, cold funeral home, with people quietly ambling by, pausing for awkward condolences, before heading to Tony’s (our local dive bar) to get drunk off cheap beer and suicidal off bad karaoke (If you’ve been to Tony’s on a Friday night and heard the slurred, off key but passionate version of “Country Boy Can Survive”, you knowwhat I mean.)  I also HATED the idea of my husband’s body being washed and prepared for his next great adventure by someone that doesn’t love him and then shoved into a sliding freezer drawer like a giant bag of tater tots.  Something as personal and intimate as death should be treated like the sacred event that it is.  Embalming fluids, fancy caskets, and giant machines plopping it all in a pre-dug hole just feels like I am stepping away from a sacred responsibility, a hallowed last act of love that should be honored.  I don’t want to turn away just because it’s hard. I know this is not how most people feel, but it is how Ifeel.  Until I saw the documentary, A Will for the Woods, I thought I was the only one.

A Will for the Woods is an unflinching look at death and the rights of the dying to have the type of funeral and burial that they feel is meaningful.  I was leery of watching it.  Dan was home.  The baby (my 17 year old daughter!) was home.  I don’t like for them to see me cry and most of all, I don’t want to make them cry.  Luckily, they scuttled off in different directions to work on their own projects and I settled down for what I figured would be 93 minutes of pathetic sobbing, but something unexpected happened.  As Clark Wang, who has lymphoma, and his wife sought a way to have the natural burial that he wanted, I realized that I was not a freak…well, at least not a lonely freak…there were plenty of other people that believed it was time to make death personal again.  I felt like a missing piece of the puzzle had been lovingly slid into place and I could now get on with the peculiar art of living joyously in the shadow of death which is more difficult than Tuvan throat singing (or at least I imagine it to be).   And if the time comes when I have to say a last goodbye to my best friend, my one true love, my soul mate, I know it will be done with the same respect, courage and love that he gave me each and every day of his beautiful life.

For more information on natural burial options visit The Green Burial Council at http://greenburialcouncil.org/.

For more information and education on home funerals visit  The National Home Funeral Alliance at http://www.homefuneralalliance.org/.

For Florida residents that are interested in being laid to rest amongst the oaks and pines visit Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery at  http://conservationburialinc.org/.