When you are confronted with the news of your own demise, it’s incredibly odd to feel so very alive. Yes, I am doing quite well of late. How do I know? I think it was my doctor recently warning me to “stay off of your (expletive deleted) roof!” I figure if a doctor needs to say that sort of thing to me, I must be in pretty good shape. So instead of knocking on death’s door, I’ve been doing this:
With dying off the table, what to do with my free time? I decided this might be a good opportunity to quickly tie up some loose “I don’t have long to live” ends, even though I may, indeed, have long to live. Does that make sense?
Working from the principle of you should do the most difficult thing first, I decided to tackle something last week most people have been putting off all of their lives. I made an appointment at the funeral home to make my “final arrangements.”
Now, again, don’t be alarmed. I feel great. But everyone has to go sometime, right? Since I’ve been wrestling with this death thing for a while, I figured let’s go crazy and get everything wrapped up and put a bow on it. I would be ready to die before I died. How organized is that?
I’ve often said that everyone should make an annual trek to the dump (to see where all our shiny toys end up) and the cemetery (to see where all of us shiny people end up). It will help center your soul and remind you of what matters.
But the funeral home? What was I thinking? Cemeteries can be peaceful and soothing. Funeral homes are macabre and just, well, weird. I mean anyplace where you have to drive through rows and rows of dead bodies (who really would prefer not to be there, I presume) just to get to a parking space is already off to a bad start.
When I got out of my car, I saw a small sign that said, “Now accepting applications.” Puzzled, I walked in and said to the woman at the desk, “I would like to apply.” “For what position?” she asked, smiling. I paused for a moment before saying, “You know, for the laying down horizontally and being dead position.”
She looked alarmed and said, “I see. Let me get someone to help you with that.” As she scurried down the hall, I shouted after her, “I really don’t think I’m going to need any help and I’m certainly not ready to do it today. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, please!” She only quickened her pace.
Ok, some grace to funeral homes and the people who work in them. I’m sure you’re not used to having very many live clients walk in and ask about how best to have dirt shoveled in their faces. Most people, I would think, come in with the dead part already taken care of and not having much to say, as a result. But I was very much alive and had lots of questions.
For example, why can caskets cost as much as a new car? And the one above? Is that a small window in the lid of the thing? Should be a lovely view for eternity – if you like dirt. Even more bizarre, what is the sliding drawer for? My iPhone? iPad? How will I keep them charged or even reach for them if someone calls or emails, for that matter? This is crazyville, folks.
Plus, this thing is garish, in my opinion. I don’t want my body to spend eternity in something tacky. Resting in peace just isn’t going to work for me if I’m in this thing.
My final casket complaint: why can’t I try before I buy? I can test drive a car, but not my eternal resting place? I feel discriminated against. Are only dead people allowed in these things? I want to make sure it’s comfortable. If not, no way of telling you after the fact.
My apologies to any funeral home directors out there reading my blog (feel free to defend your business in the comments section), but you folks really need an extreme makeover. You’re just not getting enough feedback from your clients. Oh wait . . . of course. Sorry. Never mind.
And why so somber? Or strangely upbeat? And the artificial empathy? Where’s the off switch for that? And do you have to make me feel like I’m buying a car and your job is to slickly upsell me on the options? I’m settling down for eternity, not looking for a new ride.
Speaking of money, for God’s sake, why is dying so crazy expensive? A “cremation container” for $500? Where I come from it’s called a cardboard box – with a lid. A big one, yes, but still a corrugated cardboard box that is soon to be burned up with my body. $500??? Not gonna happen.
And when we call you in”our time of need”? To pick up my body from my house (my backyard, hopefully!) and take it to your place (about 10 miles away) is going to cost my family $600? Never mind. I’ll walk.
Or an even better idea: does anyone want to volunteer to take the call and drive over in your SUV and load me up? It would give me great satisfaction to arrive at the funeral home in the back of your car. Just honk when you get there until someone comes out. Keep honking, if necessary (I may have offended them with this post). If a funeral is taking place, they’ll come out quickly I bet!
Oh, and be careful when you close the hatch, okay?
Needless to say, the funeral home peeps and I failed to achieve a “final arrangement.” They gave it their best shot, but it’s just not going to work for me. It wasn’t a total waste, though. I told them after hearing their pitch, I am highly motivated to pursue a different alternative:
I’m just not going to die.