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venetia
I used to plan my funeral but then one day I realised that I really don't think I'll be there, so really what they want to do with my old body is... not really any of my business.

Everyone I know thinks that sounds weird, but the thing is, I really don't believe the dead are "with us"/"in the next room" or whatever. So if whoever is still around are religious or hippy or whatever then let them have their grieving process, even if it would have bored me or I would have hated it - the whole point is that I won't be there, so they ought to be able to do what they like, if it helps them.
bunnyb
Friends and I had fit of the giggles yesterday as one of them was telling us about her drive over, with the window down, when a lorry drove past her and all of this dirt, ash, gunk flew in window and stuck to her lipglossed lips. Somehow this reminded me of stories/film/whatever where people throw their loved one's ashes out to sea and the wind has changed and blows the ashes back into their faces. I quipped, "that's a mouthful of mummy ... literally". Was glad to find some of my IRL friends were as sick as some of you! Reminds me of the scene with the cat and the ashes in Meet the Parents - never fails to crack me up!

When my boy's grandmother died (before our relationship) at the wake they played a mix CD which - unintentionally - had all of these inappropriate songs on it i.e. "ring of fire"; my boy and his sis and other young ones (twenties) found it hilarious and it lightened the mood but the older attendees were very disapproving, especially his gran's friends.

My stepfather is a grave digger and one of the funnier stories is of a man who was buried with his mobile phone... It rang at the funeral and his wife was hysterical, convinced he was still alive. She visited his grave for the next few days and continued to ring the phone, shouting down "[name], can you hear me?" until the battery died (presumably, or the huby switched it off as he didn't want nagged in death as well as life). My step-father and workmates kept joking that it was a call from God.

The boy loves the idea of the tombstones that are sponsored by companies; some flashing neon logo above your name. I think you get the money beforehand (obviously) so you can make good use of it - doesn't sound such a bad deal to me!
auralpoison
Dude. At my dad's funeral we played: Kansas - Dust In the Wind (a concession to my mother,) BB King - The Thrill is Gone, & Parliament Funkadelic - We Want the Funk. *The BOMB!* My father was a delivery driver for twenty odd years in our rural community & he was the only black person that a lot of farm people knew. It was brilliant to watch all of these million year old white farmers learn something about the man that they sent home with divinity & cookies every Christmas.
pollystyrene
Aww, I can totally see doing that when my dad dies- lots of 70's punk, 80's power pop, some world music, folk music. Oh, he'd love it. Would it be weird to start on a playlist now? ;) He's only 48!

I don't think using the term "passed" is very denial-y. I think if you believe that the person really is passing from one stage of life or dimension or whatever to another, then it's an accurate term.
berenguela
I do see what you mean polly-. What you say makes logical sense and no one who feels we are only passing to another stage should be forced to call it death if that isn't how they see it. But I also feel that when I have actually heard "passed" used, it is by people who are primarily afraid to let the word "died" pass their lips.

I want them to play the Alphaville version of "Forever Young" when I die, especially if I die when I'm 90.
dusty
I agree. I think 99% of the time, passed is a euphemism. When I read 19th century obituaries of ministers, I don't think that.

Umm, yes, Polly, as someone in my mid-forties, I think that would be a wee bit weird. Especially if he found out! Hee.
lucizoe
I want a big book of those Victorian death portraits, a la The Others. Gotta get on that.

My grandpa died when I was 12 and he was cremated. My family owns a cabin on Lake Huron and the summer after he died there was a cardboard UPS-style box on the table one morning.

Li'l Luci "What's that?"
Luci's weird uncle "Grampa."

Human ashes are weird. I wish I had kept some of Grampa. We planned to scatter him around the cabin and in the bay, but it wound up to be more of a dump than a scatter. We tossed some of him in the woods and then all went down to the beach to scatter him into the water. My mom had his favorite Brahms symphony on her radio and we all assumed that weird uncle was going to borrow the neighbor's canoe and go a-ways out to pour him into the water he loved so much.

Um. Uncle waded into the swimming area, the plastic bag hoisted above his head, trying to keep his shorts dry. He poured Grampa into the water and I swear to fucking god the ashes assumed a human form on the sand (water in Hammond Bay is clear as crystal), and they were glowing in the water, probably reflecting the sun, but he was on chemo and radiation so long who knows?

You could see the pile of Grampa glowing from the cabin 100 yards back for the rest of the summer. We swam over him and walked through him a couple of times. He was chill, he wouldn't have minded.

Love the thread, AP!
bunnyb
OMG, was given a head's up about this book by an ex funeral director (!) who said it is such a fantastic satire on the industry and that she was and still is so guilty of referring to the deceased as the "loved one" - I'm ordering the book NOW! I love Evelyn Waugh's humour anyway but this sounds as if it will be right up our sick fucks' alley!

The Loved One: An Anglo-American Tragedy
auralpoison
Hey! Don't let this thread, ahem, die.
bunnyb
NO! do NOT allow this thread to kick the bucket!
bunnyb
where are all the sick fucks? over in SFU thread? I still haven't seen the last season, I really should soon.
voodoo_princess
No one I know has died but there is a certain troll who I wish would.... just bumping the thread back up..... :-)
lilacwine13
I liked lurking in here, but I never know what to say. I think death is rather interesting, I like cemetaries and people think I'm strange because of it. (Okay, there are a few other reasons too.)

Burial practices fascinate me, what different cultures do and what it means, and why they do it. Right now I'm reading a book of essays about graves erected by different ethnic groups and it's interesting how much they varied, but then again, the really old parts of the cemetaries are the ones that I like the best.

Not much else to add, except that tr*lls are bothersome creatures (and dammit, didn't we get rid of him last time?).
bunnyb
Would hate to see this thread die but not much to say (or time to say it) so here's a quote about death from the pilot of House that made me think of this thread:

"Rebecca Adler: I just want to die with a little dignity.
Dr. House: There’s no such thing! Our bodies break down, sometimes when we’re 90, sometimes before we’re even born, but it always happens and there’s never any dignity in it. I don't care if you can walk, see, wipe your own ass. It's always ugly - always! We can live with dignity - we can't die with it."

A depressing thought?

lilacwine, I too love cemeteraries; there's something very romantic about them. I've always wanted to do a midnight/Hallowe'en tour of one.
battygurl
I like cemetaries too. They're very peaceful. I had sex in one when I was a teenager. It was my idea, I think it freaked the boy out a little.
auralpoison
I've done it in a cemetery, too. I had a boyfriend in high school that used to like to go to there for breakfast picnics & shagging. After seeing the ossuary in Kutna Hora, we went to a cemetery or two in Prague. An old Jewish one & a Christian one. Those people knew how to do statuary RIGHT. They are quiet, they are peaceful & it's the one place in the world where if you're alone & above ground you're better off than anybody else there.
lucizoe
I grew up across the street from a cemetery, although I never had sex in one...and it was so convenient too...damn!

It used to freak my friends out when they would come over for sleepovers and stuff. Especially when I pointed out and explained what the mausoleum was for...
sixelacat
*test bump*

Hmmm....
auralpoison
Oh, wow. I totally thought this died. I was sad. This was the only thread I've ever created.
lilacwine13
Oh good, it hasn't died. (pun intended)

I've never had sex in a cemetary either. The place to watch fireworks on Independence Day in my hometown, however, was the cemetary attached to my mom's church. It's kind of weird, a lot of families with lawn chairs, kids running around with sparklers in between the grave markers and the trees they had just planted there. The fireworks were usually worth it, though.
pollystyrene
Yay! I remembered something I wanted to post about, but was too lazy to re-start the thread.

What do people think of this?

As a science-y thing, I think it's cool. I think it would depend on the family member, though. My mom- no way, can't see her wanting to do it and can't imagine myself wearing her. My grandmother, on the other hand, I can see her doing it, and I would totally wear her. She's kind of a flashy, outrageous person and she's very dedicated to her family, especially me and my sister (we're the only grandchildren) so I can totally see her having a couple of gems made, one for each of us (and my aunt owns a jewelry store, so there ya go!). I don't think I'd feel creeped out about it, no more about wearing any of her jewelry after she dies. I just wonder, "then what?" my sister and I don't plan on reproducing, so what would we do with them when our time comes? I don't see anyone else being real excited about wearing someone else's dead grandma.

Ha, just looked at the company's address- I work right up the street from them.
sixelacat
Hmmm, soylent green gems. Initially creepy, but yeah, I would totally wear that! The weird thing is, after a while, you know some of those are going to end up in garage and estate sales. Meh. Beats taking up real estate.
yuefie
glad to see this thread ressurected, heh.

lilacwine13
Eh, I think I'd rather have a tree or a garden planted over my remains if I wanted to live on in people's memories, I don't really like diamonds in the first place. tongue.gif It would be rather interesting to run across one in a thrift store, though, probably like running across someone's old clothes...
bunnyb
Gut instinct: it freaks me out. I like the thought of having a part of them near me, but maybe not literally!

I wish I could have a child's approach to death: the bunbun (my lil sis who is nine) has such a clear-cut approach. I remember on Hallowe'en a couple of years ago her friend's dog had died and they were sitting in the back of the car talking, her friend said "we're getting a new dog and I hope that Shiloh likes him" and the bunbun said (very disparagingly) "how can he? Shiloh's dead." My mum and and I sat in front and tried not to laugh.
sciencegirl
I guess if someone wanted me to wear "them" in gem form, I'd do it to respect their wishes. I just wish that I was in Sweden so they could freeze me and grind me up and make me into compost. Nothing would make me happier than having my molecules become part of a tree with chipmunks and whatnot in it.
If I could I'd ask them to not embalm me at all, bury me in a shallow grave so that the bugs could return me to the earth. I don't think they'd do that though...I'd have to settle for cremation.
On another note, I went to the hospital the other day to see the Dr., and I had to take the elevator. It smelled so weird and bad, like sour metal and meat. I asked my mom (who used to work in a funeral home) and she said it sounds like they had a dead person in there just before me. Whoa.
pollystyrene
Ooo, I didn't know they did that in Sweden. That's kinda cool. Sciencegirl, you should look into Green Burial. There aren't many sites in the U.S. for it yet, but I'm hoping they'll increase by the time my time comes. I feel the same way- I just want to become one with the earth again. Cremation creeps me out though.
crazyoldcatlady
science girl,

you don't have to be embalmed, and there is actually a special cemetary/funeral home that specializes in eco-friendly burial. oh snap, polly found it, ok n/m smile.gif

environment-wise, apparently cremation is even worse, and besides, they only have to guarantee that a certain percentage of the ashes your loved ones receive are actually YOU. smile.gif

and as far as the body smell, most of the time hospital have separate elevators to take the deceased to the morgue, but you never know
bunnyb
An ethical dilemma for you:

Gravediggers, when digging a new grave in nearby plot, notice that a sculpture/tombstone was placed on wrong grave YEARS ago; said gravestone is for a son of a mother who regularly visits grave, lays flowers and talks to son. Gravediggers MOVE gravestone to correct grave but mother loses it and insists that se's been visiting her son, that she knows he is in there and the only way she is going to be pacified is for the body to be exhumed so she can see the plate on the coffin.

So ... if it came to YOUR attention about this unfortunate "mix-up", would you bring it to anyone else's?

I am of the opinion that what you don't know doesn't hurt you. It's obviously caused the mother more upset, pain and grief this way where she was happily (or not so much) mourning her son. It's bones and dust in a box and his spirit is wherever she is so I don't think it matters which grave she tends. However, if I was tending the grave myself and lovingly focusing on a stranger within for years I may feel differently.
tesao
i'm with you, bunnybsweet. what made her son her son isn't there, anyway. i'd stay quiet about it.

every time i see my mamãe lately, i worry that it may be the last time. then, when it is a few months later, i worry that i won't get to see her again before she dies.

why is it that i don't have any problems with the thought of MY death, but the deaths of those i love makes me miserable, sad and depressed? egotism?
auralpoison
I thought this sounded interesting...

http://www.discover.com/issues/sep-06/depa.../20thingsdeath/
ratgrl
Thanks for posting that link, Auralpoison. Some interesting facts in there!

I'm only now delurking in this thread, although I've been reading it since its inception a few months ago. Death has always fascinated me, and because it's a subject that's not discussed much in everyday conversation, I love it that there are places like this where I can share my thoughts about it, as well as hear those of other people.

I guess my interest in the subject began when I was in first grade: My teacher was reading us a book about a boy whose father dies, in a war, perhaps (I have absolutely no recollection of the title or author). The teacher showed an illustration of the kid asking "Where's my daddy?" and someone else answering, "He's in there" (pointing to a closed casket). This haunted me for a long, long time. Then, when I was 7 years old, I had a dream in which my father was lying dead in an open casket, with my sister leaning over him, weeping. It was so horrible; the fact that I remember the dream 34 years later attests to the impact it had on me!

Then, when I was in third grade, our next-door neighbor died. He was an elderly man and I knew he'd been sick, but here's how I found out about his death: My father handed me the obits page of our local newspaper and pointed to the neighbor's name and said, "Ratgrl, read this!" Ever since that day, I have made a point of reading the obituaries before anything else in the paper. And I've even written my own obituary and made both my husband and mother aware of it. Hey, I want to be in control of what's said about me in my final send-off!

I'm reasonably healthy and still fairly young, so I don't plan on dying any time soon. But of course it's conceivable that it could happen: car accident, asthma attack, cancer--there are so many possibilities. And having known many people who've died at a young age (most recently, my brother-in-law), I just can't help but think about it. Oh, I'm also a fan of true-crime books; ratboy and I have huge library of them at our house. Because of all this, I've sometimes been called morbid or ghoulish. So be it--the subject interests me.

I like the discussions in here about burials and cemetaries. Bunnyb, that's an interesting story about a body being moved to its rightful grave and the mother's reaction. If I were in that situation, I don't know how I'd react.

Tesao, I can so relate to your last paragraph! I'm prepared for--and at peace with--the prospect of my own death (in addition having written my obit and made it clear to loved ones that I want to be cremated, I've got my other affairs in order, such as my will, a living will (I will NOT risk ending up like Terri Schiavo), life insurance policies, etc.). BUT, my worst fear in the world is losing loved ones--especially ratboy, my parents, my sister, and my nieces. Truly, if any of them died, I think I'd totally come undone. But I don't think that's egotism--you can't help the way you feel, after all.

Well, enough of my ramblings for now. Thanks for listening!
auralpoison
Photos/video of the Towers of Silence shock Mumbai. The Parsi believe that in order for the soul to be released the body must be devoured by vultures. But there aren't enough vultures & too many bodies.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060907/ap_on_...ath_rituals_lh1
pollystyrene
Here's a very interesting article about a man's (and his family's) experience in hospice. There's a video and a 2-part article.

I thought the part in the second article where the hospice chaplain says she knew he was close to the end of his life when he said "My car is waiting" was really interesting- she said people typically make these travel statements when they are close to the end.
bunnyb
ooh pollystyrene, how cool of you to bump this as it reminded me I had to ask something! Is the book Stiff the one my fellow death-thinkers (as opposed to death-eaters) recommend? I'm thinking of buying it for my stepdad for Christmas as he's a gravedigger and cos bunnymama and I were having a dispute about the ecological unfriendliness of burial.
auralpoison
Mary Roach's Stiff is a good one. Insightful & humourous. She recently put out another, but I've yet to pick it up.
raisingirl
Who else wants to revive this thread?

Cemetaries can be really beautiful places.

I feel guilty for never visiting.

I think I'm going to turn into one of those people who reads the obits every day.

And I still don't understand the point of open-casket wakes and I wish the tradition would be done away with. My heart was racing as I entered the funeral home this week. I stayed in the back half of the room.
pollystyrene
Re: open casket funerals- I've heard that it helps provide closure to the mourners, to see their loved one deceased and at peace.
raisingirl
I mean, that's the obvious answer and with good cause, Polly, but I am still creeped out by it. I got more closure from the funeral service; the wake just serves to make me feel uneasy. The funeral home was a nice place, though.

I don't know, do we ever get better when it comes to coping with death?

I can count on two hands the number of funerals and/or wakes I've attended, and I'm still not using all my fingers.
pollystyrene
Yeah, obviously, there are some cases where it may have been better to have a closed casket, and for some people it probably doesn't make a difference.

I had an uncle who died in a train accident when I was 14. He was driving to work early one morning, going east (towards the sunrise) and he lived in a rural area where many of the RR crossings didn't have gates, just warning lights. He was color-blind to red so he didn't see the lights and the tracks were running at an angle to the road he was on, and the train came from behind his left shoulder. He died instantly and probably never even knew it was coming.

They did an open-casket for him, and it wasn't as grisly as I expected. He looked bloatier than most dead people I'd seen (and definitely more than when he was alive), and he had some bruising around his face (they had to put tons of makeup on him), but I think it made it easier to have my last memory of him be him just looking kinda crappy rather than what I could have imagined he would have looked like after a train accident.
erinjane
As for open caskets, they've never bothered me. I've never given them a second thought but when my grandma died this summer three of my friends came and they all said they had never seen an open casket before. None of them looked inside as they walked past. The ukranian side of my family is really big and i've been to 14 funerals in my life (i'm 21) so it just doesn't effect me, good or bad.

My friends asked me if it didn't bother me that her in the casket would be my last memory of her, but I just don't even think of the body in the casket as her. My last memory of my grandma is of my family in her hospital room, and me holding her hand as she took her last breaths. The body is just a body...not her.

For me seeing my grandma's body meant nothing to me. It didn't really look like her but I know for others it was important to see her and say that final goodbye. Of course my immediate family is incredibly morbid and we were laughing about how unnatural her hand placement was. I think that morbid sense of humour really helps us deal with things though. We're able to laugh about life and death. I know for my dad, brother, and I it calms us mentally.

I don't know if this is an older generation thing or a Ukranian thing, but my older relatives all used to take pictures at the funerals and of the body. When we went to visit my grandma's brother he was disapointed we didn't have any photo's of her in the casket. That weirds me out.
pollystyrene
Ok, kind of a funny funeral story- my grandpa died when I was 10. My mom's side of the family is huge and I, along with all my cousins, were there. I was probably the oldest, and we were running around the funeral home during the wake- we'd been there all day, what else do you expect little kids to do? I don't think we were being loud and crazy, but you can't expect kids under the age of 12 to sit still for 8-12 hours at a wake when all their cousins are there.

One of my grandma's cousins came up to my dad (she may not have even known it was my dad) and said, "Don't those children mind?" (as in "Can't they behave?") and my dad said with a straight face, "No, no, I don't think they mind." She just harumphed and walked away.

Fast forward to this week- my parents are in Kansas City for the holidays visiting my mom's family and my grandma's aforementioned cousin died the day after Christmas. On Wednesday, my parents went to the funeral and my dad said he was overjoyed to see this woman's grandchildren and great-grandchildren running around the same way we were. Hee hee!

Yeah, I don't think we're big on the picture of the casket thing. Not that I know of, anyway.
raisingirl
Those are good stories, Polly.

Erin, interesting perspective. We took pictures (of the living) at the post-wake and post-funeral dinners, but no pictures at the actual wake and funeral.
wombat
I hate open caskets where they prop the dead-waxy-doll body up. You should be able to choose whether to see the person's body or not, when and if you walk up to it, not just the minute you walk in the funeral home or turn on the tv, bam!, dead bodies in yo face!

I went to my Irish grand
father's funeral when I was 11 or 12 and got up with my cousins to take the host and I was not catholic so the "body you eat" thing really grossed me out!


erinjane
My dad says the picture thing is an eastern european thing, which is what I thought. I feel like I should have more of an opinion on the open casket thing but I feel so indifferent to it now. At all the funerals I've been to there is a viewing for the immediate family, and the casket is closed through the service, and then opened as everyone walks out so that people can go up and pay their respects, but it's not a requirement. I see lots of people walk right by without looking in or stopping, but I don't know if this is how it's done everywhere.
sixelacat
I never really got the point of having open casket visitation until my gran died several years ago. I saw her death, in fact, I was the only one with her when she actually died. She was managing her illness fine for about a year, then took a relatively quick turn for the worse. I drove down to see her and help my grandad out with her care on Sunday, she died Monday. She had been, well, not good for a week or 10 days, so she went fairly quickly. Anyway, having seen her ill, dying, and dead, I didn't particularly feel the need to "view" the body. But I'm really glad I did, not for me, but for my cousin. He was practically raised by my gran, and was really really torn up he didn't get to see her right before she died (he lives several states away and couldn't come right away). He is a very very sensitive, kind of nervous type person, and absolutely didn't want to see her body. I talked him into it anyway, because the funeral home had done SUCH a good job on her! I mean, they made her look exactly like the gran we remembered from our childhood 20 years ago!!! He has said since it really helped him cope to have his last memory of her looking so well, instead of sick, waxy, or well, DEAD. (really, she did look like she was just napping)

Funny, knowing all that, I still insist that I be cremated, because the idea of people pumping my corpse full of chemicals and putting make-up on it creeps me the hell out.
lilacwine13
I never heard of taking pictures of people in their caskets was strictly Eastern European, I remember hearing of people doing that on both sides of my family, and we're from northern Europe. I've also seen pictures from the 1940's of dead Norweigan relatives in their caskets. I think it's died out, though, since nobody has done that at any of the funerals I've been to. People took pictures of the grave and the flowers, though.

As for open casket, I don't think I've been to a funeral where that wasn't one. They had the casket open before the service so the people attending could see them and the casket was closed during it. About the only time it seemed strange was at my cousin's, but that was because the funeral director had to do massive reconstruction (she was killed in a car crash) and it looked like a wax replica of her face (which it probably was). I think my uncle's family did that because they wanted to see her one last time, her death devastated them.
erinjane
Sorry, i didn't mean strictly eastern European, but that my family got it from the eastern European side. I wish no one did it at the more current funerals I've been too, but if anyone over 65 is there a camera usually comes out.
Gillian
QUOTE(lilacwine13 @ Jan 2 2007, 07:48 AM) *

I never heard of taking pictures of people in their caskets was strictly Eastern European, I remember hearing of people doing that on both sides of my family, and we're from northern Europe. I've also seen pictures from the 1940's of dead Norweigan relatives in their caskets. I think it's died out, though, since nobody has done that at any of the funerals I've been to. People took pictures of the grave and the flowers, though.


I'm in Nothern Europe (in Finland) and I've never heard of people having open casket funerals around here. They used to have them some 50+ years ago but I don't know if people actually took pictures. At least my family didn't. Here people usually take pictures of the closed casket and flowers like at my gradmas funeral last August.

But at least in the baltic countries they still have open casket funerals and take pictures of the dead. A few years ago I worked at a place where we developed photographs from the nordic and baltic countries and I saw too many dead Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians. (Argh, I could tell you so many weird stories, but they wouldn't all appropriate for this discussion.)
girlygirlgag
My friend lives in Dublin Ireland and he is planning to kill himself very soon. I can't talk him out of it.

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