Contemplating my own death…for no good reason

September 27, 2007

in Death & dying

I’m listening to the Six Feet Under theme song. “Why do people have to die?” intones Clair in the background of a kicky instrumental. “To make life important,” responds Nate, in a clip taken from the show and inserted in a kind of rappy-way.

I love that show. Gino and I have been watching the series as a way of passing time while he recovers from his full paralysis. I’m sure when he and Tami (my sister) got the box set for me last Christmas that they didn’t know HE’d be watching so much of it with me.

I’ve seen the whole Six Feet Under series so I know how it ends. Here’s a hint if you haven’t: The tag line for the final season is Everything. Everyone. Everywhere. Ends.

In the brilliant series finale, everything does end. And it makes me think of how I will end.

When Tessa was a toddler, and while we were waiting for Reed, she and I volunteered with a hospice agency. We visited first Loretta and then Edna once a week as they experienced the act of dying. I felt privileged as each of these ladies allowed me to witness this very private process.

As part of the training for hospice volunteering, I was to imagine my own death and write about it. The more familiar we could be with the idea of death, the less freaked out we would be when talking with our clients about it.

I knew that “dying in my sleep” was a cop out. But I wasn’t able to do much better. Here’s my imagined scenario: at the age of 77 (double my age at the time), I suffer a heart attack. I leave a loving husband, a grown daughter, a son-in-law and two grandchildren. Two songs from Rent are played at my memorial service: Seasons of Love and Finale B. And the hymn, Earth and All Stars. Did you notice I said “memorial” and not “funeral”?

I really, really, really don’t want to be buried. It’s not because I’m claustrophobic (I’m not). It’s the bugs and worms and decay. I have less of a problem with cremation (see Stiff for more info on both of these options). It’s the lesser of two evils for me. See how I explain THIS to my children.

Is there anyone else here who allows their mind to occasionally wander to these places? (Or am I just a freak?)

Do tell.

Image: BrianM1967

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

baggage April 6, 2010 at 11:47 pm

I just read a book about funerals and I don’t like the idea of being buried now either.But I’m definitely having Rent songs played at my service :)

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Sunny April 6, 2010 at 11:47 pm

I SO loved this show. I watched it all last year on Bravo. It was like a train wreck. I couldn’t stop watching. My Grumps hates it when I talk about death and my plans. Right now I am obsessed with how my friends are going to party in my memory. HA!

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furrow April 6, 2010 at 11:47 pm

When I was in college, I read Dorothy Richardson’s story “Death,” in which she describes — from a dying person’s point of view — the physical sensation of life ending. Of it pushing out through the tips of the fingers, or something like that. It felt so incredibly familiar to me that I believed that reincarnation must be real. I seriously thought about volunteering at a hospice around that time, but silly, lazy me, I never did. We watched Six Feet Under when it was on. The finale was about the neatest, in terms of tying up story lines, that I’ve ever seen. I’m concerned about burials because of the environmental impact. I’d like to do what Nate did, but cremation is probably more realistic for now, for the part of the country I’m in. I’ve discussed it with my husband.So, no, you’re not the only weirdo.

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Lavender Luz April 6, 2010 at 11:47 pm

Furrow, I’m going to check out that story. Thanks for the lead.Hospice volunteering is sooo rewarding, I found. Thanks for being good, weird company.You too, Sunny. Thanks for joining me in weirdnesss. My Hubby is the same way as yours.Baggage, isn’t that an awesome soundtrack?Kami, me too. I’m more afraid of dying than of death. As I watched each of my grandparents die, I just kept thinking, “There’s no easy way out.”

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Kami April 6, 2010 at 11:47 pm

I thought everyone contemplated their own death. I do want to be buried – back to nature my body goes – no coffin, no preservatives, just roll me in a sheet and stick me in the ground. Outside of that, I figure people can remember my life however they want. The funeral / memorial is for the living, not the dead.I am more scared of old age than I am of dying. Although I think it is fair to say that I am afraid of the transition to death. I wonder if it will be painful, if it will be soon or decades away, that kind of thing.Well, not good thoughts for a Sunday evening I suppose! Off to think of something happy.

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