Something some time ago made me think about funerals, and whether I might want one, and what I’d want it to be like. Notwithstanding my aim to follow Woody Allen’s path to immortality (which might explain why I don’t seem so bothered about creating any works that are likely to be remembered for all time), I suppose I have some thoughts.
While the traditionally dour affairs with their religiously stifling atmosphere aren’t at all something I’d want to take part in, I don’t quite go along with the popular idea of simply “celebrating my life” either. I’d certainly want my send-off to be mostly upbeat, something that does celebrate life and uses the high points from my own as an example, but the way some people seem determined to do it doesn’t leave much room for sadness and actual mourning as well, which I think is an important omission. The good cheer can start to feel forced, if it’s supposedly vital that that be the order of the day.
Out of all the zero funerals I’ve ever actually attended, here’s one of my favourite moments:
That is beautiful and perfect. There’s genuine and deep affection, there’s sadness at the absence of a dear friend, but there’s also utterly inappropriate black humour, made completely appropriate by the attitude everyone’s brought with them.
I think the part I feel most strongly about is that I’d want my funeral to be somewhere people can make jokes. As dark or as whimsical as you like. Crack a gag. Labour a pun. Start a terrible hashtag game themed around the possible fates of the recipients of my organs. Resist any lingering sense of obligatory moping that feels like it should accompany such occasions. Be aware of the company, and the members of it who might not be in quite the same place at any given moment – any parents who’ve outlived me might not be expected to look on the bright side, for instance – but contextually appropriate humour (and some which deliberately stretches that boundary) is heartily endorsed.
Just leave some proper space to be sad as well. You’re supposed to miss me, you fuckers.
Classroom discussion questions
1. What’s the colour scheme going to be at your wake?
2. Have you signed up to be an organ donor yet?
3. More importantly, how soon are we going to find a cure for physical aging, and start backing our minds up on some successor to the Cloud, thus rendering all such questions of death and funerals moot?