I think about my own death a lot. Often, though not necessarily always in a way that people would associate with depression. I’ve gone through one genuine suicide attempt and have had a few brushes with death that varied in their seriousness. In addition I have had a lot of close friends, sworn enemies, and casual acquaintances die at very young ages. I’m a very introspective person already and an unexpected death is enough to make even the biggest idiot pensive for a time.
Anecdotally I would estimate that I have had more experience with death than your average person in my socio-economic/lifestyle/age group. I certainly wouldn’t say I’ve had a lot more experience, but more than average for whatever demographic you want to place me in.
By definition that also means that I’ve been to my fair share of funerals. I realize that once again I’m speaking from inside of a very limited cultural microcosm, a white American working class Judeo-Christian view of death, dying, and funeral rites. I admittedly have very little experience with funeral rituals in other religious/cultural/ethnic settings. So it should go without saying that some of my experiences and opinions here are more insular than usual, perhaps bordering on ethnocentricity. For that I apologize.
Depression is by definition self-indulgent, so it should come as no surprise that the only character trait that defines my personality more than my misery and discontent is a nauseating degree of egocentricity, introspection, self-conscious obsession, masturbatory psychological self-diagnosis, and a general lack of concern for other people’s feelings or ideas.
The convergence of all of these traits is that I am not only obsessed with dying, but with my own legacy, especially with my funeral. Part of this is of course due to my own vanity; I want whatever ceremony that follows my death to represent the depth of my character in a way that satisfies my own self-indulgent nature.
Additionally – and I think this is more important – I think that a bad funeral does a disservice to mourners. A powerful and appropriate funeral has the ability to act like a flashbulb on the best parts of a deceased person’s character, giving you the best picture to remember them by. A cheesy funeral, an insincere eulogy can muddle our memories of a person.
I’ve sat at funerals and been crushed by the failure of a speaker to do justice to the person who had just died. As much as I want to be remembered well, I want my loved ones to find closure and connection in my funeral.
It would be hard for me to relate how it feels to be so vain that an appropriate funeral is one of the biggest concerns in your everyday life.
All of that introduction to say that I would like to outline some very important instructions for my loved ones to consider when I die and preparations are being made for my funeral.
First, so there is no ambiguity on legal matters, everything that I own will be left to David Phinney. David Phinney alone will have the final legal say in all matters relating but not limited to my body, property, creative work, funeral arrangements, &c.
Second, I have two older half-sisters that I do not consider family, so under no circumstances are April or Casey to be listed as my sisters in my obituary or any other memorial information, funeral programs, &c.
Third, I don’t have a preference for where my funeral is held as long as there aren’t any religious messages in the actual proceedings. I’m an atheist so it seems rather silly to talk about my going to heaven or whatever other nonsense people would like to think. Make sure that whoever gives the eulogy is someone who is very eloquent, hopefully at least as eloquent as me. Greg Bennick is an obvious first choice, Joseph Green would also be good. Whoever you get, make sure they’re good.
Fourth, use the following picture of me as the official picture on display and in my obituary. Don’t use any dressed up nonsense to represent me.
Fifth, make whatever use of my body you can – donate my organs or even my whole body to science if it can be of any help. If you want to dispose of my remains, make sure that I am either cremated or if you wish to bury me only do so in accordance with natural burial guidelines. You can read more about natural burials here. This is not a point I am particularly picky about, plus the circumstances of my death may have some bearing on how best to dispose of me. I’ll leave this up to David’s best judgment.
Sixth, the following are suggested songs that can be played at my funeral. Otis Redding – Sitting on the Dock of the Bay. Converge – The Saddest Day. Tupac – Unconditional Love. Tom Waits – Dirt in the Ground. Eisley – Combinations. Gillian Welch – I Dream a Highway. Trial – Reflections.
Seventh, if you plan to use any of my writing in the service, try to make sure it isn’t something I would have been horribly embarrassed to hear read out loud. Certainly nothing I wrote in high school should be read out loud, ever.
Eighth, when you remember me, make sure that Veganism and Straight Edge are the first things you think of.
Ninth, I fully endorse my friends using my death as a way to get free things, get lots of attention, get out of work or school, and make out with people they find attractive. I try my hardest to help my friends get things they want while alive, so if my death can help my friends get things they want I fully endorse that.
Tenth, I realize that it might be a very long time before I actually die so many of these suggestions may become either outdated, irrelevant, or contradictory. To that end I once again authorize David Phinney to make whatever changes he feels best represent the spirit of what I was trying to get across. Also he’s authorized to make whatever changes he feels would make my funeral more powerful, endearing, or amusing to himself.