Way to Go

Someone I know shared to me how she wants to have her funeral done. According to her, she didn’t have much choice about the way she "entered" the world, but at least there’s something she can do about the way she "exits" it. She has already picked out which songs will be sung at her funeral, including persons who would give the eulogies (specifically, persons who have played a significant role in her spiritual growth and life), what dress she would wear, where she would be buried.

At first, I was incredulous. Honestly, would you really care about how other people would take care of your remains? Could you care less if they clothed you with red or white gown? Or if the people you have entrusted the tasks with would really carry them out exactly the way you specified? Even if you make threats like – "Mumultohin kita pag di mo ginawa ‘yan…" (I will haunt you if you don’t do that…), there’s really no guarantee that you would get what you wanted. Of course, it would be a different matter altogether if you got an executed will or some legally-binding document to forge your last request.

Anyway, by the time she finished telling me her plans, I realized that somehow it made sense. It’s morbid, but it made sense. No one can choose the circumstances when one eventually kicks the bucket. There are a million and one ways to go, but at least one gets to decide the manner in which one’s remains would be handled. At least one gets to decide how people would remember one’s parting moments.

She gave me something to seriously think about, that’s for sure.

When Daddy was still alive, he had one specific instruction on what to do with his remains after he died: cremation. He didn’t want to be buried under the ground and leave his rotting body to the mercy of worms and natural decomposition. The way he looked at it, fire would be a kinder, more noble way to dispose of his earthly remains. Don’t ask me to elaborate – as far as my Daddy was concerned, going out in a burst of flames is a "noble" way to go.

But in this day and age of environmental concerns, particularly global warming and environmental pollution, cremation doesn’t seem like a "green" choice. Just imagine the incredible amount of energy and fuel required to burn the body, and all for what? To have ashes as souvenir? To conserve space? To me it still seems like an incredibly wasteful way to go. Traditional burial would be the more, err, organic choice. Nevertheless, traditional burial-in-the-ground also has its own set of environmental concerns like contamination from embalming liquids and chemicals from coffins. And then there’s the problem of space – in some countries like Japan, where land area is limited, traditional burial will be very problematic.

Or how about space burial? Haha. Ok, scratch that. Only the filthy rich could probably afford something like that.

If I were to choose, and if it were within my capability, I would prefer being sent off to the sun, to be "combusted in space." It would be a one-way trip back to the stars. No memorials or burial grounds to visit. Just look at the sun and remember me. :)

Ok, enough morbid thoughts for the day.

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4 Responses to Way to Go

  1. Wil says:

    You’re right. Cremation and burial both have environmental costs. What about burial at sea where we’ll just let the organisms/animals at sea use us for food? Our bones will just decompose over time. Morbid thoughts indeed. hehe

  2. niceheart says:

    Your friend has a very good point. We didn’t have a choice in the way we entered the world, so why not plan on a way how to exit? A few years ago, I also learned that my mother has given my sister instructions regarding her funeral. She already bought a burial plot. And I think she’s already made arrangements regarding her funeral expenses. She didn’t want us to carry that burden when she goes. That’s definitely something to think about.

  3. Belle says:

    my MIL left it up to her daughter regarding her funeral arrangements and all. she said to surprise her…hehe.

  4. annamanila says:

    I am always in the verge of writing instructions on how I should go. Thanks for the reminder. I want to have a say on this if only to make that burden (of how to dispose of my remains) more bearable for my family and loved ones.

    I used to say I want cremation .. now I am no longer sure.

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