For me death is real. It’s something that’ll happen to all of us at some time. It’s unavoidable, and no matter what I do, I can’t change that. What I can change is my fear of it, and understand that I can control my choices for when the time comes.
I’m organised, and like many others, I write lists, lots of lists. Lists to shop with, lists of things I’d like to achieve #bucketlist, lists of things I have accomplished plus many more. Why should my funeral be any different? I envisage certain things; I can feel how it will be, even hear the music I want to play all in my mind. I want to be part of it, but mostly I want to control it. From the flowers to the music, right down to making sure they only have photo’s of me that I like! It’s been planned and arranged. Would I have trusted someone else to make all my decisions for my wedding? No! Again, why should my funeral be any different?
Many times I have thought of my mortality, and I am seemingly calm and open about the whole experience yet to come. For a part of my working life I was a Funeral Director, and perhaps this has given me a special insight into the subject that no one likes to discuss. Death and the discussion regarding it, seems to be taboo in today’s society and I am not sure why?
I have seen many families struggle with the loss of a loved one, have listened to their concerns and worries, witnessed them try to cope with their grief as well as the added pressure of funeral arrangements, which are often too much to bear. But, with no prior arrangement, they are somewhat unavoidable. It made me think about my family. What could I change? How could I help them not live this experience so harshly? How could I protect myself when it was my turn to make those arrangements for someone I love?
My mission was to change my perception of my funeral and in doing so alter the minds of those around me. I talk about death and dying, rather than keep it the taboo, morbid subject it’s known as. Those around me now know that part of my everyday conversation will focus on life, legacy and the fact that I am very aware that we are on this earth for a finite amount of time. Funeral ‘speak’ flows smoothly in my vocabulary, yet doesn’t seem to offend others. It allows me to talk frankly about what I know and what I would recommend for a funeral service to those that ask or are willing to listen.
My funeral will be brief, but full of love, laughter and memories. I’m sure we would all wish for one of those if we had a choice. In life, I have a lot to say (or so I’m told!) but, I feel that I will have said all I wish to say to those that matter when the time comes. So the purpose of my funeral is for those I leave behind. My farewell to them and a time for them to say goodbye.
My pre-chosen photos will show my life, the life I loved and openly shared with others and my social media is a great example of how proud I was to share my memories as they happened. My family and I live life to the full, and I hope this leaves me with no regrets (well that’s the plan anyway). Sadly, it was a lesson I learnt from watching many families struggle with someone taken too soon. ‘Saving’ things for a time that may never come.
My coffin will be simple; and something ecologically sensitive, I don’t want to leave a footprint on my way out! Lillies that have just opened will be flowing, and the smell amazing, mixed with Magnolia leaves for a splash of green. No babies breath or fern, as I have seen way too much of that! My tastes are not opulent; it’s more about making my family and friends feel comfortable in knowing I was ready for what was to come. These were my choices I made so I could pick up a few of the pieces when my loved ones would hurt. To lessen that burden, even just a little.
I want them to cry, for we grieve for those we love, and the two go hand in hand – especially at a funeral. As a society, I think we have largely forgotten how to grieve, either for ourselves or others and I don’t believe that it’s healthy. We shouldn’t rush death or what it means to us each individually, but allow ourselves to experience feelings rather than hide them or hide from them. Sometimes I think we grieve not just for our loss but for all those times previously that we’ve pretended we were OK when we were not. It hurts, and it cracks open old wounds. So, I want them to cry; cry with love, and cry with heartfelt emotion of what we were and for the new life they will begin without me.
And of course, there will be a story, My Story. It will be my legacy to them, the ones I love and the ones I am yet to love. It will hold the answers to who I was, where I held my deepest and fondest memories and to tell them I loved them very much.