Monday, July 7, 2008

Final destination

In response to the question I'm occasionally asked as to what I want done when time comes:

1. Cremation, as quickly as possible following death. The ideal is straight from the deathbed to the crematorium with no meddling by a funeral director in-between. No embalming, nothing, just a shroud (an old sheet would work just fine) and a cardboard tray for sliding the remains into the oven. Under Michigan law embalming is only required if there's going to be more than 48 hours from time of death to disposal of body. (Laws vary from state to state, but usually if it's straight to the crematorium there's absolutely no rationale or legal reason for embalming to take place.)

2. No urn for the ashes -- a cardboard carton will do just fine because it's not going to be used very long.

3. No holes dug in cemeteries -- I want to be scattered on the hillside above the orchard at the farm in Herman. Or in the orchard. Use your own judgement on how far up the hill you feel like walking. (Note: be sure to let the crematorium know the plan is to scatter -- they'll blend the cremains finer when they know that's the plan instead of a columbarium or someone's mantel.)

4. If this seems too minimalist, I'm okay with a cenotaph at the Herman Cemetery. There is a way to get one at basically no cost (see instructions for the S.O. below)

5. And if it feels like there should be some ritual involved, track down someone pagan or Wiccan to do it. No bible thumpers.

As for the S.O., similar instructions, and ditto on the cenotaph. The S.O. and I both qualify for a military headstone. Go with the traditional upright marble tablet-style and set them up in either the Mannikko or Farm family lots. I'll try to remember to fill the application forms out in advance and will keep them stashed with the other necessary paperwork, like the copies of the DD214s that prove we're veterans. Both family lots have plenty of room for a cenotaph or two when there's not going to be anything else (like a full-size casket) going with it.

The upright headstones do allow for a brief epitaph, and I may or may not have one composed in advance. I may joke about using "all we are is dust in the wind" but I'm not such a huge Kansas fan that I actually want to be linked to that lyric into perpetuity. (Then again, it is a nice counterpoint to all the "gone home" religious inanities.)

If survivors really insist on spending money, I've always been fond of memorial benches in cemeteries. Not cheap, though, and maybe not a good idea in a part of the country known for heavy snow fall.

7 comments:

DCup said...

That sounds like a great plan to me!

Nan said...

I should probably come up with a contingency plan just in case I should be unfortunate enough to not die peacefully in my sleep at the retirement bunker in Upper Michigan 30 years from now, but instead check out tomorrow when someone runs a red light on while I'm in a crosswalk here in Atlanta.

Ranger Bob said...

Always wanted, if I go first, that I be cremated and kept in a container in the trunk of Ranger Sue's car. That way I might still come in handy if she needs traction some icy day.

Anyway, had always favored no-frills cremation, but now that I live across the road from a very attractive and walkable cemetery, there's a temptation to buy a plot so that any surviving dogs can stop by and sprinkle my grave now and then.

Nan said...

Actually, the container in the trunk is what I plan to do with the S.O. if he goes first.

Terry said...

In defense of graveyards:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqxb6X9bVdk

Personally I want my ashes scattered in a cornfield adjacent to a little cemetery in Ottertail county.

Nan said...

Lovely video. Thanks, Terry.

Robin said...

I'm with ya Nan! I say just throw my body into the woods and let the animals and insects eat it. quid pro quo. I don't need it anymore. Ranks right up there with an old car! Just a vehicle I used for a while, not really me!