Final wishes...

Edited: I had lots of people ask me about my stance on embalming... I updated that section to include my reasoning against it just because of the interest I had in the topic. 

The other day Blake asked me what I was reading. I sheepishly showed him the cover:

Then he asked a few days later. And I refused to the show him the cover:

He eventually got a glimpse at it and shaking his head said, "You have issues."

I said "I know."

But the good news is that because I have read so many of these types of books, I actually know the correct terminology for what my issues are... I am a thanatophiliac - one who has an obsession with death. Not to be confused with a necromaniac - one who is obsessed with corpses/the dead body or necrophiliac - which is kind of the same thing but involves a sexual undertone... ewww.

So anyways I like death. I like to think about it. I like to know all the morbid details about it. I like to understand how people and cultures approach death. I like reading about it as a way to make something that is natural/unavoidable to become more natural/unavoidable to talk about. I find it fascinating that a big part of our life is often ignored because of the fears (personal/cultural) that have developed about death.

So I will keep reading my death books and I will keep asking innocent acquaintances, "Do you have a will?" Because seriously - you need a will. Write one today - even if it isn't legally binding - just put something down... then go get it notarized... and hand it off to a trusted relative or two so that they know it exists upon your demise. DO IT PLEASE... right now, stop reading... do it. But anyways, back to my death obsession.

Shortly after my brother's death, Blake and I wrote a will. This is mainly if something were to happen to both of us so that our kids get cared for in the way we want them to. At the time, I also wanted to plan out my funeral because really the last event in my honor should have "my stamp" on it... but I also understand that funerals are for the living so maybe I should let the living decide - so I didn't. But I kept thinking about it, especially as my knowledge of the death industry increased and my opinions become stronger and stronger.

And then in The Whole Death Catalog, the author makes the argument that having your final wishes written out isn't narcissistic at all. That it can often make life easier for the survivors as they are in the depths of grief... and if they really don't have the energy to carry out the death details you custom tailored that they just won't... because you are dead and can't argue.

Then he provided a checklist and I got to writing. And then I am a freak so I decided to share it with all you unsuspecting blog readers... because maybe it will get you thinking that some things, especially when it comes to your death, you may want to have a say on too.

So here goes - Cyndi's final wishes:

*Please donate my organs. Any that could be of use would be fine by me. I considered donating my entire body to science at one point but I like the idea of my family being able to visit my final resting place - which sometimes isn't possible for years if you donate your entire corpse. And then I read about how often cadavers are used to teach cosmetic surgeons how to do facelifts and the nobility of it was a bit ruined for me.

*I want to be buried in the Cloverdale Memorial Garden as close to Talmage/Boston as possible. I am not completely opposed to cremation but if possible I would prefer a traditional burial.

*I want my coffin to look like this:

 Seriously, please Blake just build one. It is allowed - if you aren't around or too old/gray then just hire someone... it will be thousands cheaper and I know you like cheap. But seriously,  I would feel ridiculous showing up to my funeral in something like this:

Even dead...

*Do not embalm me - I will haunt you if you do. I don't care if you do or don't do a viewing but if you do - find a place that holds bodies in refrigeration and do it quick. I would prefer cremation to embalming if by chance I die far from home or it is deemed, for some unforeseen reason, necessary to postpone my burial.

Because people asked... this is why I am anti-embalming. First off I know the details of how it is done and it is a procedure that is very defiling to the body and serves no function but cosmetic. I don't plan on getting plastic surgery in real life so I don't really care for it in the afterlife. It is expensive and as long as the funeral home has refrigeration capability unnecessary as long as you are buried within a couple of days. No state legally requires it which is something that up until a few years ago funeral homes often misrepresented. Embalming came about as a way to ship bodies home from war without them decaying in the process. In our modern age, I think it is overdone and maintained out of tradition that has no justifiable reason (except good money for the one doing it). As a last act for my body I want it to naturally decay not be pumped full of chemicals - chemicals that have proven to be unsafe to the ones doing the procedure and harmful to the environment. I get that if you want a "traditional funeral" embalming might be necessary - I don't want that and would like to be buried as soon as you can part with my cold dead body.

*My funeral... oh this is a hard one. I have very strong opinions on what I want my funeral to be like but I also understand that funerals are for the living and my say... well, I am dead so I don't get much say. If I got to pick - this is how it would be. I would have a traditional wake - in my home - with me tucked away in a corner in a simple casket as people came and went, ate and chatted, and with no formal service of any kind. This would happen quickly after my death and without any fanfare. That is it - that is all I want. But I can already see Blake squirming - you want your dead body in our house... you have issues

So if you just can't handle my corpse in the living room then do it graveside and keep the guest list small. It must be brief, closed casket, and do not sing any of the following songs - Each Life that Touches Us For Good or Be still My Soul (This is Talmage's song). I wouldn't mind Come thou Font or I Lived in Heaven. And a guy playing Amazing Grace on bagpipes would be pretty sweet as well. 

I can still see you rolling your eyes Blake... why do you have to do everything different? So if a traditional Mormon funeral has to occur, make sure the funeral potatoes are extra cheesy and you already know that the following phrase is forbidden:

She never complained. (This is a bold face lie - which is what I think every time I hear it at a funeral.)

*My grave marker is up to you - you are the ones that will have to see it. Keep it simple - no graphics of any kind but if you are feeling like sprucing things up you can always engrave my hot cookie recipe on the back like Kay did with her fudge:

I'm just kidding - please don't. But I am not kidding about the embalming - please don't.


Jana Weaver said...

This is very interesting. My grandma had me write down how she wanted her funeral. It was quite specific; we did some but not all of her requests... like you said, they can't argue. Really, though, I thought it was great to have it all written out.

Taylor said...

I'll build your casket for you. But your funeral might not be exactly how you want it :) I'll probably die before you anyway.

Crystal said...

My dad keeps saying he wants my brother to build him a casket that can double as a bookshelf until he dies. lol

Also, my cousins wife died in a car wreck very young (she was so amazing and pregnant with their second baby). We went to her funeral and one of the songs was "We Are All Enlisted." At first glance it seemed like such an odd song for a funeral, but now I think it was perfect.

Kristen said...

Because now you know, again, that I read your blog I figured I should stop being a creeper and leave a legit comment instead of the ones I merely think and never write. I too am obsessed with death. Could be because I have had far more near death experiences than the average person, but it fascinates me and so I talk about it a lot. I think my husband Matt, you know that one guy standing next to me that you met at Cafe Rio, would prefer I stop starting sentences with "If I die before you...." or "When I die...". Ever since we had our son I have asked repeatedly to have a will put together, like more than just the paper one I handwrote and keep in my nightand, and finally we are doing it for real. I made an appointment this week with an attorney to get it drafted so it was ironic to read your post just now and knew I had to comment. Also, I'm glad to have run into you. I made a comment to you and Blake about the number of your children, but wanted you to know Talmage and Boston were not forgotten. Hope babysitting went well that night and you guys got to enjoy the rest of your date.

The Woods said...

Being the wife of a mortician this was a truly fascinating post. We deal with death on a daily basis around here. And as a side note, embalming is required for a public viewing. ;)

love.joy.lane said...

I was hoping you would comment since you have an in. ☺️

This is the law I read... So I am really curious now...

"In Idaho, a body must be embalmed or refrigerated if burial or cremation will not occur within 24 hours. Embalming is also required if a body is to be transported by common carrier, such as an airplane or train."

I thought refrigeration was the alternative that I could choose.

Jo said...

Just curious about why you are so strongly opposed to being embalmed.
Please address with me or add to your post if you are so inclined!

Jo said...

PS I like the casket. We could build a few and store them in your shop. We'll probably die before you do and we could use them as needed.

love.joy.lane said...

I updated that section to share my reasoning. Thanks!

The Woods said...

Sorry. If you have a public viewing, no matter what, you must be embalmed. Even if you are planning on being cremated, but having a public viewing first. It's not just for cosmetic purposes. It's also sanitary and prevents the spread of diseases. And it keeps the body from decomposing as quickly. I'll never forget when Brian was studying in college and there was a picture of a man who had been dead for 50 plus years in his textbook, but he just looked like he was asleep!

The Woods said...

And yes, if your body will cross state lines at all, you must be embalmed. I wish I didn't know so much about this. HaHa!

love.joy.lane said...

Sorry... Not arguing... Just conversing...

Everything I read suggests the following: Most funeral homes require embalming for a viewing, Idaho state does not and if you have a home viewing you do not have to be embalmed... If over 24 hours you must be refrigerated but you can be brought out for up to 6 hours. Embalming helps with decomposing but isn't necessary for a safe or sanitary corpse... dead people are pretty harmless for the first couple of days.... Unless you die of a contagious disease of course.

I hate even replying because I know your husband and you both know infinitely more about the death industry than me but this is something I have researched a lot. I want to get the law and facts strait so I know my rights... please correct me if I am wrong or tell me who I need to call to get the info I need.

If Blake isn't willing to do the home funeral thing and hires the viewing out to a funeral home then I guess we will just be going closed casket... And I am ok with that too. 😉

The Woods said...

This led to interesting bedtime conversation in our home last night. Brian says the number one reason for embalming is for sterilization and decontamination. He doesn't know all the ins and outs of the Idaho law, but they are required to embalm if there will be a public viewing. That's always one of the first questions he asks the next of kin.

And this is the last thing I'll leave you with. From the mouth of a mortician, 'Refrigerated or not, no one should have to see an unembalmed body after death.' Take that for what it's worth. Maybe a closed casket with an adorable picture of you on the top would be a good option? ;)

AndersonGR8 said...

Dang, I am a lot closer to the timeframe when this should be a concern than you are - and I see that you are far better prepared. Interesting read and food for thought.
"Coward's die many times before their death,
the valiant only taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders I yet have seen
It seems to me most strange -
that men should fear, seeing that death, a necessary end
will come when it will come." Shakespeare

HowellAZ said...

This was such an interesting post! I hadn't been on your blog in a while, and boy was I missing out! Ha! But really, it was very interesting reading your opinions on funerals and such. I would have never considered not embalming myself (or rather, having it done). Intriguing. In my case, I feel it would be very difficult for family and friends to make it to a funeral/wake/life celebration within 24-48 hours, so I don't think I'd do it...I guess unless it was a closed casket kind of thing. When my niece died at 7, I hadn't seen her a while, so it was nice for me to have some closure, seeing her (although, not really her) at the viewing. I have mixed feelings on the topic of funerals, death, etc. Maybe I should sort through them. At any rate, I should get a will done. I chose to comment on your blog instead though, so that'll have to wait for another day. ;) Love ya lots!