October 4, 2004

Last Will and Testament

Between us, Pete and I have carelessly managed to lose four grandparents in the last fourteen months; we’re getting pretty damn good at funerals. All this morbid black makes you feel a strong awareness of your own mortality, and a certain heightened appreciation of the people you still have around you.
[Except in certain cases, where wills are involved and small fortunes seem likely to be dispersed in all the wrong ways. I strongly advocate disposing of one’s assets well in advance of one’s demise, so that there’s nothing left to be fought over or to cause bitterness and resentment. I would recommend buying, in advance, your place at the best of nursing homes, in which to see out your days. Then, if you pop your clogs before being able to take up your place, you can just leave it in your will to the next-likeliest-to-go.]
For my own part, the recent run of funerals has convinced me that I do not, under any circumstances, want a religious funeral. I was happy to learn from this blog, written by a humanist funeral celebrant, that there is an alternative. I also require an inexpensive, environmentally friendly cardboard coffin, cremation, and the scattering or burying of my ashes in Grasmere, where several members of my family are already interred.
Finally, I don’t care what colours you wear, or what songs you play; whoever’s stuck with organising the affair can please themselves. Just have a drink or two and look to the future.


1 thought on “Last Will and Testament

  1. I want a Jewish funeral. Not for the religious aspect, but … well I don’t know. A lot of reasons.
    It’s comforting for the family to have that familiarity. I know from having been at them, there is something that feels write saying the exact same words (in Hebrew) that my culture has been saying for 5 or 6 thousand odd years. You feel part of something around you a bit bigger than your own grief.
    Also I like the way the Jewish culture deals with death. Little things. For example everyone at the funeral should throw at least three hand or spade fulls of sand on the coffin, and you can’t pass the spade to anyone. You have to put it down and let someone else pick it up, as a symbolism of not passing your grief on.
    I also like the way your mourning is quite strictly specified (7 days of one type of morning followed by 21 days of a lesser type of morning (followed by 11 months of another type for a parent only)) which forces you to deal with death, and not get paralysed by your grief.
    There are many other things that for me hold special meaning, not because of the religious aspect, but because they are both smart, and they are tradition.
    Incidentally all Jews are buried in a plain wooden coffins. We are all born equal and we all die equal.

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