After the End

No one wants to discuss after the end because that means acknowledging that there will be an end. And that means acknowledging one’s mortality–the fact that we all must die. This has to be the most avoided conversation subject in history. People prefer not to think about, let alone, discuss this topic; but it is a topic that should be discussed. Personally, I feel it is selfish not to discuss it. It is selfish to leave all the messy details to those who are left grieving after the end. These people need to know your preferences.

Recently I attended a funeral of a friend’s mother. It was a Catholic affair that included a mass and all that a mass entails. There was a lot of being told to stand up, then sit down on those hard pews. There were directions and implied directions to pray and others to repeat specific lines. As an atheist, this was very far from my idea of what comes after the end; but knowing this women, a devoted Catholic, who had also been a nurse and then a nursing instructor, and knowing how dedicated she was to the rules and teachings of her church, I recognized immediately that it was exactly what she would have wanted. And even though it was a sad day for both the family and the attendees, I was happy for her family because this event was perfect for her. At some point there had been the after-the-end discussion.

The Doc’s parents had all their arrangements done and paid for in advance so that all the family members had to do was make a phone call to start the process. I remember how easy that was for his family and the fact that there was so much less stress than one would expect at that time. I feel that this gave the family more space to grieve. And I never forgot it because, to me, it felt like his parents’ final gift to their children. 

People in my age demographic are much more acquainted with death these days. It is the age when most people in our parents’ generation are passing on. We hear about the deaths of uncles, aunts, our friends’ family members, as well as neighbours and acquaintances. We also hear about the poor health of those in our own generation, persons who we know will not be here in the near future, which brings it all closer to home. This alone should encourage us to have the after-the-end conversation. But I guarantee, it won’t inspire most people to do so. 

However, I am a planner, I need to make sure things are taken care of. I need to have the discussions. So I have jokingly, over the years, made reference to my demise. It has to be jokingly because adult children do not want to have this discussion either. I have made references to taking my ashes out into the lake in the kayak and freeing them ironically into the water that I so enjoyed paddling. The irony here is that I can’t swim and am terrified to put my face in the water. But I do love kayaking that lake. If that isn’t possible, dig them into my gardens, if my gardens are still here and accessible. If neither of these options are available, because we know that circumstances can change, dump them in the woods, somewhere amid beautiful trees. Or take them to the beach and let the ocean carry them away. Be creative. You have my permission.

Have a party. Eat delicious food. Enjoy drinks: wine, beer, pineapple juice, whiskey, milk, hot chocolate. Laugh at my foibles: my poor parking lot and driveway automobile skills, the way I trip over my words or constantly mispronounce them. Remember my cream pies, my mulled wine and my hugs.

Honestly I am not hung up on the exact details because as I said, circumstances can change. What I really want to do is make it easier on the love ones I leave behind. By then, I hope to get rid of most of the stuff that surrounds me so they won’t have to. I hope to have all the paperwork in order to make things as simple as possible and I hope to say a quiet good bye before I go.

As you can tell, there has been much thought and some loose discussion regarding this matter on my part, which is better than no discussion at all. I have no intention of kicking the bucket any time soon, but I do like to have a plan. Longevity runs in my family so I am considering it a long-term plan. Now if only I could get The Doc to warm up to the idea of a plan and an after-the-end discussion. Perhaps he is afraid to let me know in case I decide to expedite the process. For the record, he doesn’t have to worry about this.

Thank you for reading. 

Photo:  Aron Visuals, Unsplash

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18 thoughts on “After the End

  1. You’re so right. We should all plan and pay for our wishes to be carried out ahead of time. My MIL and BIL both passed without anyone knowing what they wanted. It’s a big family but we ended up making the decisions and paying for both in their entirety. It was hard on my husband but no one else stepped up. My mother and I discussed death at length which was good. When she passed I felt at peace.

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  2. You raise a good issue about how we all need to be conscientious about planning for our end. My parents were planners when it came to finances, but less so when it came to funerals. Still they had their wishes and trusted someone would do what they asked. In some ways I think the idea of a good old-fashioned Irish wake appeals to me, but I haven’t heard of anyone doing that recently. Maybe I’ll be a retro trendsetter!

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  3. I’ve said I want to be buried… but then I’m terrified of worms! I’ve said I couldn’t be cremated… because I’m terrified of fire. I did consider burial at sea… but I’m not too keen on deep water either. I wish I could afford to be blasted out into space – that would be great! Or I’d go for the old method still being used in some countries – that of being left out on a hill for the birds and so on to feed on and be recycled into nature that way.

    My Dad had a religious ceremony as that’s what he’d have wanted. I’m not really a believer either but it was a nice service. We had all the funeral plans in place. My funeral plan has gone missing somehow and I can’t locate it but I’m not sure about taking another one out. It was pretty expensive (about £3500 a few years ago) and now I can’t afford it. I’m not sure it matters from a money point of view as I should be the last one left unless I fall off a mountain.

    My walking buddy Richard plans to have a punk song at his funeral – ‘Hurry up Harry’ – with the immortal line: “we’re all going down the pub” 😉

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  4. It is difficult to talk about but you’re right at how important it is. My dad let us know exactly what he wanted but he was ill for a while so we knew we needed to hear his wishes. It made a huge difference to everyone. I do think it’s funny that you can’t swim and yet want to be sprinkled into a lake from your kayak! Maggie

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  5. End-of-life decisions are tough; we don’t want to make those for our parents. That’s why, even though it’s much easier to avoid, we should all develop a plan that spells out our wishes so that our kids don’t have a guilt trip, wondering if they’re doing the right thing.

    I was so grateful that my parents explicitly stated their wishes to me verbally and in writing. They even wrote parts of their obituaries, knowing some of that information would be hard to track down.

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  6. I agree with you wholeheartedly! I don’t understand my friends who won’t talk about “death,” as if it’s a dirty word, as if I’m mean to even suggest we might die someday, and that planning is wrong. I think we’d all (the human race) get along better if we talked about our mortality. My guy and I made plans for a big party when we’re gone – good food, good wine, good music. A perfect send off. We haven’t agreed where we want our ashes spread, but really, does it matter? ;-0 Great thoughtful post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That does sound like the perfect send off. I am with you on the ashes. It doesn’t matter. It’s making some sort of decision that will help those taking care of things that matters. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

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