Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 591 It's Your Funeral

This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.

I had this friend a few years ago who planned her own funeral. A real rocket ship was needed. It carried her ashes far out into space. She was a cancer victim. It was fast acting but not as fast as Kay when it came to planning her own trajectory.

She taught English so it only made sense that she write her own obituary. It was very colorful prose that drew attention to her inner thoughts and life time dreams. Lot of poetry and drama. She always had a certain personal flare and the idea of being launched into space was perfect. As a side note I recently heard of a service out of Tucson, Arizona that will place your ashes on a rocket ship that will be directed at the moon. The rocket will be collecting data for science before it crashes into the moon. Your ashes will then be placed permanently there. All you relatives and friends will be able to visit your resting place every time they look at the moon.

As for me: I haven't planned a thing. Maybe I should. Don't get me wrong. I'm feeling very healthy at the moment. I've yet to experience a massive heart attack or somber talk from my doctor. One of these days. I'm happy to wait.

A recent funeral I attended drew my attention to the need, or should I say the opportunity to do so. I particular incident that triggered this impulse or thought was the inclusion of a couple of christian prayers included in the service for the recently deceased. He wasn't a christian at all. He was what one would call a nonbeliever. Perhaps even an atheist. It just didn't seem right. I was reminded of Nietzsche's famous words to the effect that he wanted no blasphemous prayers be uttered over his grave.

This same funeral had one other feature that seemed very fitting. The father, and brothers, and deceased himself were all dressed in Hawaiian shirts. They also wore beautiful Hawaiian lays around their necks. And then the music: a Hawaiian ukulele. When that ukulele start and the high tenor started in on Somewhere Over the Rainbow I'm sure there wasn't a dry eye in the place. The deceased had grown up in Hawaii and has three brothers still living there.

Where do you start in planning your own funeral? And beside that question: why should you plan your own funeral because you will be dead. Let the ones left behind plan it. That is who a funeral is for. Now that does sound reasonable to me. Very reasonable. I may have just convinced myself to do that very thing with a few specific exceptions. The requests I make are intended to make it easy, or at least easier, for those I leave behind. I want to leave these request in writing and well known for those that may be responsible for disposing of my remains.

Here are my funeral plans – none of which need to be adhered too:

Cremation or a green burial are to happen quickly after my death. I envision someone making a quick call to the crematorium and seeing that there is no delay. Thus anyone who is any distance from my death will not have any body to view. There is to be no embankment. Let our last goodbye be our final goodbye. If it is to be a green burial it will take some time to figure it out. I guess I should get on that while I am still able. Details can be gathered now that will make it much easier when the time comes.

Whatever my wife, Brenda, says goes. Hopefully no one will question her decisions.

I would like for there to be no memorial service unless she desires one. If there is a memorial service let it be held anywhere but in a church or a funeral home. Outside would be best; perhaps in our own yard or a nice park.

If there are ashes do with them as you see fit. You are the one's who have to live with them or without them. It matters not to me.

So there it is: my funeral plans. Hopefully this little thought process will help those that make decisions at the time of my death.

Now I have to admit that the plan keeps evolving. Just this little exercise got me thinking more about it and I did a little bit of digging – sort of – on the internet I mean – not the ground. It has lead me to find out more about the green burials that are now being done where I live. They have a real appeal to me. I may end up here. Not sure they are being done across the country.

I'm not saying that everyone should follow this example but it is something to think about. Didn't take long at all. But it feels good to have it in writing. This should answer any unsettled questions that might slosh about when it comes time to wrapping it up.

The other funeral arrangement I know of happened down in New Orleans. We were on a road trip and stayed in this home exchange place. The owner's husband had recently died. But before he did he had his funeral. He wanted to be there and enjoy the eulogies and comradely. So they did that very thing. Not a bad idea. She claimed that it worked well. And she seemed to be surprised at my surprise.

This is Retirement Talk.

If you have questions, comments or suggestions contact

Follow Retirement Talk on Facebook: on Facebook