I might have mentioned a coupla times: I'm really scared of death.
Not what happens to my spirit or conscious or soul or whatever. I don't believe in an afterlife, so the anxiety isn't a spiritual one. A long time ago I determined I could lead a very spiritual existence without subscribing to the concepts of a heaven, a hell or a purgatory. And if I'm wrong?
I'll be happy for all those who held the faith.
My distress about death is mostly about what happens to my body after I'm dead. The ins and outs of how my body will be prepared, where and how (and by whom) it will be kept until my funeral and -- the biggest angst of all -- what method will be used to dispose of my body for all of eternity.
I don't wanna end up like this guy.
Thousands of years after his death, King Tut is sill being poked, prodded and moved around for the benefit of science and greed.
Not me, brother.
I'm regularly perplexed about how my last will and testament should dictate the way my body should be laid to rest. Part of that conflict rests (no pun intended) in my understanding of how neurotic my desires may be, and if I should insist Mrs. Film Geek (or my next of kin, should she kick the bucket before me) carry them out.
1. I don't want to be autopsied.
Even if my death is suspicious, I don't want it to happen. Sure, the sawing and the cutting and the poking bothers me. But my disturbance is mostly because I don't want some grubby examiner doing the job half-way, leave me alone on a table while he takes a lunch break only to come back later to finish sorting through my lower intestines. Also, I don't want to be kept for any real length of time in one of those small drawers. I'm more than a bit claustrophobic, and can't stand to sleep in a bunk bed; that in-the-wall drawer would really freak me out.
(By the way, when I mention my disinterest in being autopsied to my wife she always smiles, says she understands and will honor my wishes. I'm not sure, but she seems a little too eager to please me on that one.)
2. I don't want buried in the ground, cremated, placed in a drawer in a mausoleum or stuffed and put on display.
None of those work for me. The claustrophobia I mentioned before bothers me, but the cremation does equally. There must be another option.
3. If a casket is used, please don't lay me in it flat on my back.
I can't sleep flat on my back, and lying that way for an eternity gives me the heebie-jeebies. I need to be at a slight angle, sorta half-way on my side. If someone would bring a door jam and slide it under my left or right hip, I'd greatly appreciate the solid.
Oh! And I can't sleep on a satin pillow. I've used the same pillow for about 15 years--bring it along, crumple it under my head in the only way I can sleep (my wife will show you how) and leave me be.
4. I don't want to be at the funeral or memorial.
The thought of people walking by and looking at me--especially people I barely know--is really disturbing. If you know me well, you know I can't hold eye contact for long, and having people stare at me causes me real discomfort. So, I'll remedy that by saying "No" to any memorial that has me present.
5. Regardless of laws that govern how this is carried out, I don't want to have my dead body prepared in any way that involves (a) cutting, (b) blood draining, (c) make-up, or (d) the town barber stopping by to do a trim up.
Really, just leave me the hell alone.
The cutting and blood draining reminds me of horror movies I'm too scared to watch. The make-up really freaks me out, with all the touching and staring at me to see if it looks right. And I'll be damned if I'll go into eternity with combed hair! My hair hasn't been combed thoroughly in years; doing it at my death seems disingenuous.
Anyway, the King Tut press this weekend really freaked me out and made me think even more about my dilemma . And I've come to this conclusion: I'm stuck, I have no real options, and don't know what to do.
So please, some advice here: given the same fears, how would you get past them?
(Photo by AP/Ben Curtis)