Perhaps it’s been the downturn in my fortunes, but lately I‘ve grown fond of planning my own funeral. While some people daydream about spending the vast sums they win in the lottery, or coming home to find Megan Fox vacuuming the rug in the nude, my thoughts linger on that ultimate Going Away Party (I go away, everyone parties). I know it sounds a tad morose, but before anyone starts planning an intervention, please know that I don’t feel suicidal (yet). In fact, I’m not really preoccupied with the exact circumstances of my death, although I’d pick a fiery motorcycle crash à la Thelma and Louise if I was certain it could be painless.
Part of my morbid fascination has to do with that wish every child has when they think they’re in trouble – to gain the moral high ground by dying (because THEN you’ll be sorry). Mostly though, I’ve been planning my own funeral because funerals usually suck.
I’m certain I’m not the only one who feels this way. With the exception of funeral directors, no one is jonesing to go to a funeral; there’s no need for a bouncer and velvet rope at funeral parlours, and Owen Wilson will not make a movie called The Funeral Crashers. Why the antipathy? Well, there’s that whole “confronting your own mortality” thing, but anyone who’s seen the end of the human safari knows the real reason: funerals are hastily organized affairs done on the cheap – cheap stationery, cheap egg salad sandwiches cut in fours (because that looks fancy), and worst of all…cheap sentiments.
It’s not like we don’t know it’s coming. I suppose most of us don’t give a shit about our own funerals because it’s unlikely we’ll be attending them. Instead, we’re struck down by an aneurysm, or a drive-by shooting, and then it’s a mad sprint for our loved ones to get us in the ground before we start smelling like a diabetic hobo on a hot day. The result is there’s little time to think about how we should truly be remembered. A Better Man would not stand for such a flaccid end to his life. A Better Man would have a hand in choreographing that moment when the handful of people still alive and willing to admit they knew him come together and celebrate his meagre contribution to humanity.
Like most people, I want the turd polished – a big reason funerals exist is to salvage dignity from a life where none may have existed. As Bette Davis pointed out, one should always speak good of the dead, even if the dead were assholes in life, and so it should be with my shuffling of this mortal coil. Of course, a resplendent funeral where the guest of (dis)honour gets big ups is promised to no one. The only way you can ensure that people leave the church/funeral home/Hooters with an image of you that you yourself helped shape is to be very vocal about what you want at your funeral while you’re still living. Thanks to my current fixation, I believe I have it down when it comes to planning my viking send-off.
First off, I don’t want a viking send-off – I’m sure the boat will cost too much, plus nothing kills a funereal mood quite like having firefighters on stand-by to put out your funeral pyre once the thing is over. In fact, anything grandiose is pretty much a non-starter, because no one will want honour it (unless you paid for it in advance). So unless you’re Hunter S. Thompson, forget about having your remains shot out of a cannon.