When I wrote the latest version of my will, my attorney noted I’d made no provisions for my ashes. Nonplussed, I asked, “Doesn’t the funeral parlor dump them?”
As the deceased-to-be, my lawyer’s question struck me as impertinent. I don’t pay taxes once I’m dead. Why should I be responsible for my ashes?
Seated behind his mahogany desk, the man paled, as if I’d suggested Hillary Clinton should run for president a third time.
“What a horrible thing to ask of a friend.”
“Dump them, you say?”
“Yes. Dump them.”
I paint this scene, which is true, to illustrate how little I care for the rituals of death. In my experience, funerals are places to see and be seen rather than an occasion of mourning. I’ve been crushed by job seekers or hopeful politicians intent upon running me over to get to someone important at the far side of the church. I think it a kindness that when I die, I have no plans to endanger others in similar fashion.
As I have been out of step with much of humanity the bulk of my life, my leaving it should be no different. I am appalled that since Evelyn Waugh wrote The Loved One, funerals have become more elaborate rather than less. Dressing for funerals has a become high fashion occasion, particularly as ceremonies approach Wagnerian proportions.
According to writer Bob Morris, funeral productions now require seating charts, music for exits and entrances, choirs and doves and floral arrangements — enough theater to employ a producer and a director. As someone in the business explains, it has to be right because there are no “do overs.” (“End Games,” by Bob Morris, Town & Country, September 2017, pg. 126.) And let’s not forget the expense of filming the event. Who will watch afterwards, I don’t know. Not the deceased, I am sure.
No, I’m not going through all that falderal just to die, nor the expense, either. However it’s choreographed, I’m certain death will not become me.