You’re going to die. Sorry. Regardless of your spiritual or religious belief, or lack thereof, on this plane of existence the meat suit (or “sacred vessel,” whatever your preference) that you know as your body has an expiration date. It may not be until years from now, or it could be a few minutes away. Very few of us know the date and hour of our demise ahead of time.
There are far better, more poetic, reflections on the temporal existence we lead, and I encourage everyone to seek them out as I believe coming to terms with one’s mortality is a life-affirming and, frankly, a good get-off-your-butt-and-LIVE motivator. This post, however, concerns confronting the practical challenges of tending to the expired, inanimate shells that once held our spirit/soul/energy. It may be helpful to disassociate the existential questions of spirit/soul/consciousness from the material realities of tending to the body. Here are three considerations to ponder, and write in detail in to your death plans. If you don’t have plans, the Midwest Green Burial Society can help you get started:
1. Whom do you want to take care of making sure your wishes are followed? A spouse? A family member? A friend? You’ll want to make sure they are familiar with and willing to execute your plans as specified. If your plans include costs, this person is not responsible for them – you are. Help them help you (well, what’s left of the “you” that they knew) by having set-aside savings and/or purchased pre-need plots, shrouds, caskets, and body preparation services. Make sure all documents pertaining to your wishes are kept somewhere that your “death partner” knows about and can access.
2. What do you want done with your body? Do you want a viewing? If so, for whom? All the world, or just close family? Do you want to be embalmed or do you want an eco-friendly body preparation? Do you want to be buried, cremated, entombed, resomated, lit up on a funeral pyre? The options aren’t endless, but are somewhat extensive and vary from place to place. You’ll need to know your local rights and laws. Do you want a coffin for your body? A shroud? A gilded casket? A vault? A tomb? An urn? To be made into a diamond? A reef? A record? Do you want a headstone? A tree? A rock on the ground for a marker? GPS coordinates for friends, family, and posterity?
3. Where will your body be buried, burned, entombed, etc? If you die away from home, say in a foreign country or out-of-state, do you want to be planted where you drop, if possible, or moved back to your pre-chosen burial plot? Does your plan allow for flexibility? If you’re cremated, where do you want your ashes interred or scattered?
Starting with the questions of whom, what and where one moves down the rabbit hole of these, often difficult, decisions. They also start to raise the considerations of budget, life celebrations/memorials, and other end-of-life issues, such as power-of-attorney and living wills. Contemplating one’s demise isn’t morbid, it’s mature and self-aware. By deliberating death, I’ve found, one can better appreciate this short world walk of a life.