For Fun, Let’s Talk At Length About Death!

funeralHow often do you think about death? Ironically, I used to fixate on it more when I was young, healthy, and less likely to keel over. I was fairly neurotic, and went through several periods when I convinced myself the cancer-switch had been flipped inside me, and it was now only a matter of time. I even went to the doctor once about it, and he could barely refrain from rolling his eyes.

“There is no cancer-switch per se, Jesse,” he told me.

And now that I’m entering the age when shit actually does start to fail on you, and organs begin cutting in and out, it rarely crosses my mind. I think I’m too tired to fully power a neurosis at this point. When I turned 50 my life insurance premiums shot up, presumably because I was thrown into a much more treacherous risk pool. But that only triggered a few ghoulish jokes, and very little added concern. Twenty years ago I would’ve obsessed over it, and thrashed around in bed, trying to get to sleep at night.

Thankfully, I’m still healthy – as far as I know. I’ve had no problems in that regard. And the only time I worry about death is in the context of time remaining. Know what I mean? I have a lot of stuff left to do, and I’m halfway through the third quarter, with the clock running. That bugs me. It might be a bit narcissistic, but I’d like to leave some evidence behind that proves I was actually here for a while. I haven’t done that yet. My biggest achievement to date: a series of hamburger photos that went viral.

I don’t think I fear death. I’m a little apprehensive about the weeks and months leading up to it, but death itself? It’ll either be lights out, or one heck of an adventure. Hopefully it’s the latter, but I’m thinking it’s probably the former: the Big Sleep, as they say. Wotta bummer.

In any case, I don’t dwell on it too much. But I have had conversations about different aspects of death through the years, often with a few adult beverages under my belt. And I’ll now do a rundown of my conclusions for each, and turn it over to you guys. How’s that sound? Good, let’s do it.

How I’m likely to go out

I know it doesn’t mean all that much, but we have very little cancer in our family. So, hopefully my old fears will never be realized. However… there’s a shitload of heart disease. There was plenty of hard-living to go with it, of course, but most of my dead relatives checked out because their ticker finally said fukkit.

So, unless I’m killed in a fiery crash on Interstate 81, en transit to or from my job, chances are fairly high I’ll be brought down by a heart attack. And in the newspaper it’ll be listed as “a short illness.” Yeah, it doesn’t get much shorter than a fat bastard clutching his chest, falling face-forward and exploding a coffee table. Right? As far as illnesses go, that one must be amongst the shortest.

The good news: I have no issues with cholesterol. I know it’s a medical miracle, since I enjoy so many #1 combos at Wendy’s, but my cholesterol numbers are always right in the sweet spot. My blood pressure, however, is a different story… But I take a tiny pill every morning with my coffee to keep it in check.

So, it’s not an open and shut case on how I’ll eventually go out. Heart attack or stroke, something standard, I’d say.

Toney says stroke, because I allow myself to get all whipped-up about “crap that doesn’t really matter.” Oh, I beg to differ… It matters, it’s just that the rest of society is too dumbass to notice it. Anyway, Toney is exactly the same way I am, except the stuff that bothers us doesn’t always coincide. So, it’s a kettle and pot situation, if I’ve ever heard one.

How I want to go out

I want to die under suspicious circumstances at 104. I’d like a dinner party to be locked-down, and nobody allowed to leave until everyone is questioned. Finally, after the pressure has built to an unbearable pitch, somebody who isn’t even born yet will break down and scream, “OK, I did it. It was me! I admit it. But the old bastard had it coming. I’m glad he’s dead!! All he did was sit up here in this mansion every day complaining about people who back into parking spaces, or shit at work, and playing those old Buzzcocks records, again and again…”

What I want done with my remains

I don’t want to be buried. It’s creepy, and I hate the smell of soil. Also, where would the grave be? Not Pennsylvania, that’s for sure. If I were to go the whole fancy cadaver-box route, I’d only want it to be buried in Dunbar, WV. But Toney won’t go along with it. She has no connection to the town, and has dug in her heels on the matter. There are a lot of Kays in the Dunbar soil, but I won’t be one of them.

So, I guess I’ll just have ‘em burn me up. They might have to find a specialty crematorium with a larger-than-normal furnace opening, and I assume there will be a lot of popping and hissing, and whatnot. I hope nobody gets hurt.

The ashes can be sprinkled near the location where I lost my virginity. But they’ll have to do it during off-hours, before the parking lot fills up with the breakfast crowd.

Other options for disposing of my corpse

Hunter S. Thompson had his ashes shot out of a cannon, which is pretty cool. But I wouldn’t mind taking it up a notch, and having the same thing done without cremation. Just stuff my body into one of those circus cannons, and fire my big ass into the Atlantic.

Leaving my body to science is also an option. But I’m concerned some dickhead med students might put party hats on me, and pose for selfies. And I can’t have that. They’d probably also give me a jokey, uninspired nickname (Dead Ed?), and that kind of thing… It’s far too risky.

My memorial service

I’ll leave that up to my kids. After all, it’ll be for them, not me. A few things for them to consider, though: no organ music, no expectation of dress clothes (cargo shorts and flip-flops OK), no awkward and excruciating “sorry for your loss” line, no mayonnaise on the premises (out of respect for the dead), Yuengling Lager on-tap before, during and after the ceremony, nachos bar, pie, tiki torches, coconut bras, punk and new wave music from the ‘70s and ‘80s, a screening of Animal House and/or The Hollywood Knights, and people patrolling the parking lot making sure nobody backs into their spaces.

But, you know, it’s all up to them… I haven’t given it much thought.

And now I’m going turn it over to you guys. Do you have any thoughts on any of these uplifting subjects? If so, please share them with us in the comments. Also, I’d like to know about the best funerals or memorial services you’ve ever attended. Do any jump to mind? OK, maybe “best” isn’t the proper choice of words. But you know what I mean.

I’ll see you again on Thursday. If you liked this one, please share it on Facebook or Twitter. Every little bit helps.

Have a great day, my friends!

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Comments

  1. First (sorry).

  2. With two ailing parents, death has been on my mind more often than I like.

  3. Steve in WV says:

    As long as I am dead and gone before the earth goes spinning off its axis due to global warming or the meltdown of a nuclear plant in Bangladesh, it doesn’t matter to me what happens next.

  4. Westersteve says:

    Since cancer has been my family’s companion for the last 3 generations I’ve had concrete plans set for decades. Direct cremation (no embalming, no service) followed by a sprinkling of the large quantity of bacon scented ash in a nearby lake. I’m going to be dead and I really don’t care to direct party favors, or seating arrangements now, why would I do that then.

  5. My daughter has her instructions: I am to be cremated and my ashes placed into a milkshake and served to someone I truly dislike. This person is yet to be determined.

    • madz1962 says:

      Great idea but I have too many people I don’t like. They’d be serving my remains in shot glasses.

  6. My grandpa just died recently and out family gathered, of course. It was like the biggest and best family reunion/party our family had ever had, so much so that we kept forgetting why we were even there. Don’t get me wrong, we mourned grandpa’s death and will miss him terribly–it’s not as if we were glad he was gone at all! But the party got to the point where a few appointed people were making alcohol runs when we ran out. I still feel some guilt over how much fun we had, but I hope MY funeral is that much fun for whoever cares to show up for me.

    As for watching my grandpa die… that was tough. He lingered, we hoped, he improved, we relaxed, he got sicker, we worried… it went on for a long time and I hated it for him. The indignities of a long, slow death were a shocking warning sign for me. Ugh.

  7. Best funeral: daughters had mom’s ashes divided into many tiny bottles and shared with guests. They were asked to scatter ashes while on vacations, then drop daughters a line to let them know where mom had gone. Seems mom had always wanted to travel.

  8. Conjured images of two attendants at the “specialty crematorium” pushing and shoving your carcass through the “larger-than-normal furnace opening.” Your memorial service sounds a lot like how I want mine except I really don’t give a shit how people park, and maybe show The Big Lebowski. I definitely want to be part of a fireworks display.

  9. Jesse?

  10. Brenda Love says:

    As someone who thought they were going to die recently, I’m vote solidly for either the heart attack or wreck scenario. I do NOT want to die gasping for air that just won’t get in there. I just want to get it over with ASAP.

    Then I want to be cremated and buried in Jimmy Page’s guitar. Party optional…

  11. “…sit up here in this mansion…”

    I like how you just slipped that in.

    I don’t think about death much. And when I do I try to make it as bad as possible. I’m going to die of emphysema in a urine trough at New Wrigley during a night game while the White Sox trounce the Cubs in a tie-breaker game to go to the playoffs (Yeah, that means they would be in the same league. The horror.)

    I’m much more concerned with what happens to me after I die. I would like to be chopped up in little bits and mailed to everyone who ever pissed me off. That way I can stick it to ’em one last time. Fuck you. After that, I want to be burnt to ash. Then have that ash smashed into a diamond. Then have the inside of that diamond be laser etched with my name and genome. That way if some future race finds this thing then I will be recreatable. I should exist at all times for the benefit of everything.

    None of that is going to happen though. So I made the wife promise to put a string with a bell connected to my hands. And a sat phone and oxygen tank. that way if I’m buried alive and wake up i can get the fuck out. She goes on and on about how i’ll be dead anyway because they’ll take all my blood out and replace it with mortician juice, but what if the moritcian is in on it and is trying to make me suffer. I won’t have it.

    • Did you not see that episode of CSI: Little Rock? The coroner makes the incision, the “corpse” bleeds, and all he’ll breaks loose. They’d figure it out before they pumped you full of Febreze.

  12. I’m a huge fan of the Order of the Good Deat blog and every time I learn about a new body disposal idea, that’s the one I want for myself. I am leaning toward the biodegradable urn that comes embedded with a tree seed. You plant the whole thing so the tree can use your ashes as fertilizer.

  13. Ugh. Typo. Order of the Good Death

  14. I can’t remember who requested it, but somebody wanted me to add a “subscribe to comments” option. It’s now in place. You can sign up and receive an email every time somebody posts a comment on a particular update. It’s at the bottom of the page, underneath Post Comment. You can also subscribe to the mailing list there.

  15. madz1962 says:

    My family doesn’t have a history of cancer or heart disease so I don’t know what’s going to get me. Maybe I’ll do an Ann B Davis and slip and bang my head. I just hope it’s quick and painless. My mother had pneumonia last year and although she’s bedridden now, she’s doing damn well.

    My dad died from renal failure but that’s a long story that probably should have included a lengthy lawsuit (but didn’t).

    I want to be cremated and have my ashes tucked into the sand on some of my favorite beaches. I don’t want them scattered in the ocean because I used to have a fear of drowning. No, sit my ass up on the beach so I can always listen to the rolling waves.

    My service should include an open bar, loud music and knee buckling laughter, tear streaming laughter. I’m just pissed I’m going to miss it!

    • Bill in WV says:

      Did I read/hear correctly? She had lived with a church bishop and his wife for over 40 years? That’s weird in itself.

      • madz1962 says:

        Yeah – that was odd. I’m going to be it was that drip Jan who sent her over the edge. Or maybe she wanted to make Sam jealous.

  16. bikerchick says:

    I must say I think about it quite often. I always have. Its hard to wrap my head around it when we really don’t know *what*, if anything, is on the “other side”.

    When my husband died in his sleep a few years back, it really fucked up my head in more ways than one, I tell ya. It kind of made me a bit paranoid to the point where I sometimes wake up at night and make sure my boyfriend is still breathing. But I digress…..

    Have a party when I go. Not a big ta-do though. I imagine my estate sale will be enormous as my poor boyfriend will have to get rid of all my collections and whathaveyou. He doesn’t want that crap. So wtf…make some money on it and take my nurse and go on vacation. (I’m 16 yrs older than he is….he’ll hire a nurse for me and strap my scooter to our camper).

  17. I’m worried that I’ll get in some kind of fark-link type accident and I’ll be laying there thinking, “Oh God. What have I done?” Just before my brain shorts out.

  18. In my family it’s always Alzheimer’s… having seen a long and undignified death with my grandmother I’m likely going to take myself out in the early stages. The plan was to go on a deem dive in the Caribbean with a short tank. Of course, they may have a cure by then. I’ve got another 30 years until I need to start worrying.

  19. My grandfather’s funeral had a nice little twist. His brother, Uncle Wilbur, is a notorious drunk. He showed up drunk to the funeral service. Sitting in the front row he passed out face first into the grass and it was clear that he’d shit his pants. People were even saying, “Wilbur shit himself.” They just rolled him on his back and kept going with the service.

  20. My days of being shot by a jealous husband are long behind me now so I can relax on that as a way to go out.

    I would also suggest that any pickles your party guest might be carrying be left at the door in respect. “Can I get an Amen?”!!!!

    My quality of life occupies my thoughts more than the prospect of my most likely burning in Hell for eternity.

  21. Dr. Buford says:

    I love the thought of a cannon firing your fat ass into the Atlantic while all of us Maturity is for Suckers Reporters drink of the golden elixer and watch Animal House on deck of the USS Enterprise.

  22. I’m around death and dying regularly. On occasion mine has been the hand that pulled the plug. So yes, I’ve given I some thought.

    I fear it will be cancer, but having my heart decide to get weird one day is a distinct possibility. Being shot by someone I’ve pissed off a work is also a possible (not because of the afore mentioned plug-pulling, no, just because I’m a dick).

    Having seen what I have, if I have time to anticipate it, I’ll be DNR/DNI. I have no wish to spend days or weeks or months on a vent, eating, breathing, peeing and popping into a tube while I collect bedsores and superbugs.

    I want to go out in a comically large bed while being thoroughly used up by 5 extremely expensive hookers as 5 generations of my progeny cheer me on.

    Having seen what I have, if I have time to anticipate it, I’ll be DNR/DNI. I have no wish to spend days or weeks or months on a vent, eating, breathing, peeing and popping into a tube while I collect bedsores and superbugs.

    My funeral will be business casual. Coats and ties for men , no bare legs for women. Anyone in casual dress will be asked to leave. My wife is aware of my wishes. Yes, I am that uptight, what of it?

    I will be buried, it’s a tenet of the religion I was raised with. Although, like you I suspect it’s oblivion and hope for something better. So burial is sort of hedging my bets.

    Chris Titus has a bit about his fathers instructions: prop me up in a bar and let anyone I’ve offended piss on me. Cremate me, then put me in a douche bottle. Then find a hooker and run me through one last time.

    • johnthebasket says:

      Since when does business casual require the wearing of a tie? If I wanted a fucking noose around my neck I’d rob a train.

      And I don’t go anywhere that female gams are verboten. It’s just not right.

      jtb

      • Rachael Smith says:

        Seriously.

      • Sorry, I meant business formal. There will be ties.

        And as far as ladies go, legs are fine, as long as there is some sort of covering; hosiery, socks, slacks, whatever they prefer. Just no bare skin below the hem.

        Professional dress is what I’m saying.

        • johnthebasket says:

          Jesus Christ, Jorge. I had no idea you were 87, Panty hose is the concertina wire of clothing, and I believe the Geneva Convention has outlawed both in civilized society.

          John

        • Clueless says:

          I wore jeans to my own wedding and haven’t worn stockings since maybe the early 80’s so I won’t be in attendance. Party on.

      • Bill in WV says:

        Do people even rob trains anymore?

        • johnthebasket says:

          Only in desperation, to avoid the necessity of getting a job that requires a tie.

          .
          “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.”
          Henry David Thoreau

          • Thoreau. The first hippie. Probably needed a haircut.

            I hate hippes.

            • johnthebasket says:

              As Thoreau, one of America’s most important 19th century thinkers and writers, sort of said, “Haters gonna hate.”

              jtb

  23. t-storm says:

    I assume my death will be alcohol related.

    We tailgated my grandma’s funeral in louisville.

    I don’t want to die stupidly.

  24. I think I’d want to be buried (with or without cremation, family’s choice) in the same little 18th century cemetery where my Dad’s family are buried.

    Based on my grandparents’ demises, I think I will most likely go from cancer, heart disease, stroke or stroke.
    .

  25. My husband is convinced that I will die on the highway in a “screw you, psycho driver” road rage event.

    In truth, I will probably spin the wheel of Suck Roulette and land on cancer, heart disease, lung disease or kidney failure. I wish to be cremated, and my ashes thrown on the side of the highway – or on the top of Mt. Katahdin back home in Maine.

    There will be no funeral, as I find them creepy, weird and wrong. If there’s a party, the entry music will be “Dead Man’s Party” by Oingo Boingo, followed by “If I should fall from grace with God” by The Pogues.

  26. Lori in Cbus says:

    since i have no husband, etc. my brother knows to cremate and throw me in the water at ruby beach wa.. where our dad and uncle were spread.. since most of my stuff is yarn and thread related, i don’t care what he does with it..
    i guess if i could, i would like my ashes to be in a fleshlight mold so i could suck one off but that would be vulgar and i am a lady.

  27. Lori in Cbus says:

    i totally regret my previous post.. i am so embarrased now
    i should have said “sucked one off one last time..” sorry

  28. johnthebasket says:

    “Give me my freedom for as long as I be.
    All I ask of living is to have no chains on me.
    All I ask of living is to have no chains on me,
    And all I ask of dying is to go naturally.”

    Laura Nyro

  29. lakrfool says:

    I asked my 18 year old son- if he ever discovered me to be wearing a “Bazinga!” t-shirt, or using an online dating service- to be merciful and kill me to put me out of my misery.

  30. lakrfool says:

    If I should soon shuffle off this mortal coil, I would want to have a graveside memorial service at twilight, a small stage behind the casket with a 4 piece, female orchestra playing some Ludwig Van.

    Then, when the last ray of sunlight peeks over the horizon, the crimson velvet curtain behind the stage raises slowly and a fog creeps from underneath, revealing a slightly larger stage and a cover band, bookended by empty cages, blasts out the opening guitar to “Sweet Leaf” as sung by a Vegas Elvis impersonator. The women in the orchestra pair off into the cages, disrobe each other and begin making out.

    A 7 minute, butt – scorching guitar solo to end a Sweet Leaf/Give It Away/Earache My Eye medley (they all use the same riff) is nearing its close, upon which a spectacular fireworks display launches from behind the stage.

    My casket rises from the ground, the lid bursts open, and a towering 30 foot inflatable penis emerges and climbs into the night sky. Upon full inflation, the penis ejaculates a massive pyrotechnic explosion, and the coffin is also consumed in flames.

    All those that came to pay their respects will be treated to a package of dark chocolate peanut M&Ms and a Budweiser tall-boy, their happy faces aglow by the light of the flaming penis as it slowly crumbles to the ground.

    That would be sweet.

  31. johnthebasket says:

    The Dr. Thompson method, of which I approve, only works if 1) your estate is valued at least in the high seven figures or, 2) Johnny Depp is a close friend and is paying the tab. The bastard (Thompson, not Depp) offed himself on my 55th birthday and I’ve not yet forgiven him.

    Actually, the plan, which was worked out in some detail, was to incorporate Thompson’s ashes within a couple dozen powerful fireworks shells, then send them skyward over his farm. In the end, that just got too complicated, so they lit up the sky with fireworks and cannonaded Doc’s earthly charred remains skyward simultaneously.

    The tab was rumored to be around six million (including fireworks, open bar, cannon, tower, and prawns wrapped in bacon, but might just as easily have risen to ten. I guess more than several people went to see those pirate movies. I was not one, although I’m glad Doc got a nice sendoff.

    John

    • Rat Bastard says:

      They buried him on my birthday. I haven’t forgiven him either.

    • Rat Bastard says:

      Buried. Wrong word. Blah.

    • neilyoungfan says:

      I know someone who worked the bar at that event. He tells one hell of story about it!

      • johnthebasket says:

        Fan…

        Perhaps on an appropriate occasion you could pass along some of the highlights. The vision of George and Eleanor McGovern (who were in their 80s at the time) drinking next to Jack Nicholson and Benicio del Toro had to make for some gonzo fun.

        John

  32. squawvalleyskip says:

    Damn. Late to the update again. I have a feeling being dead never hurt anybody. Them that’s left, yeah. But not the guest of honor at the funeral. I don’t really give it much thought these days, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to go someday. Cancer, heart disease, or since I ride my Harley about 100 miles a day commuting to work in the good weather months, sometimes at speeds approaching 100 mph, I might make the news. I told my wife to take me up to the North Slope in the winter, and dump me out under the Northern Lights. She balked at that, not being fond of the cold, so I told her to mix my ashes with 5 pounds of alpo and dump the whole pile on a beach where the brown bears are feeding. Without getting caught by Alaska Fish and Game. One day a blurb in some local paper, the next a pile of bear shit in the woods.

  33. Ron From PA says:

    A teaspoon of my ashes in every race car running at Waterford Speedbowl on the next Whacky Wednesday following the pire . I’d be just carbon at the point anyway, so I shouldn’t hurt the motors………….

  34. I tell my wife I’m having her cremated and turned into a synthetic diamond for my belly button.

  35. sunshine_in_va says:

    Terrified at the thought. TERRIFIED. If I don’t nip it in the bud – the thinking about death and what comes after (likely nothing) – I can feel a paralysis taking over my thinking and there’s real danger I’ll never leave my house again. I swoon when I think about it – so I really try not to.

    I was there when my Mom died last year. She opened her eyes right at the end and seemed to be looking over my head at – what? Nothing, probably – except some chemically-induced hallucination her brain cooked up.

    I’m done talking about this.

  36. Lucie in Tampa says:

    cremated & planted with a fruit tree….
    as for the circumstance, wanna be in my 90’s & just done something totally wild & crazy….

  37. All right then. Shot in the back by a jealous husband, at age 106.
    .

  38. scruffythejanitor says:

    I was an EMT for a few years and I became unhealthily obsessed with the subject of death, so much so that I had to leave the profession. I still think about it from time to time but I try not to let it bother me. I was also adopted and don’t really have a family medical history to rely on. So from the two main causes of death, Illness or Injury, I’d have to go with some kind of illness. I would like people close to me have a great party and tell jokes and make fun of me like they had when I was alive. Get shitty drunk, smoke some weed, just have a good time. Pick out a song that reminds you of me and play it loud motherfucker. To paraphrase a Geldof line, I’ll be dead a long, long time.

  39. Skippy in WV says:

    If I don’t die of a heart attack or cancer by 65, I’ll end up livin to 100. The best funeral was my great uncle’s. My uncle and aunt who are both deaf, and have been deaf deaf their entire lives, went to a private part of the funeral home, as they were walking away my aunt says “Bobby and Carol needed a quiet place to talk”. Everyone in ear shot doubled over laughing.

    I’ve said all along when I die, I want music blaring, everyone laughing and enjoying themselves, and an open bar.

    Skippy out.

  40. This update + my sense of humor=
    Franks + beans=
    Milk + honey=
    Pork chops + apple sauce.
    Well done, Jeff. Beginning to end hilarity.

    I read about death frequently, I also joke about it and laugh about it (and read humorous writing about it). I have a number of collections that have loose associations with death, as well. I do not see it as “goth” or morbid, OK maybe a little dark, but if I well acquaint myself with the things that reside in the dark then they become less scary. Some of the spookiness is taken away if I shine a very bright light upon it.

    Someone commented about taking ashes and filling many tiny bottles with them so that guests can take them and scatter them while on vacation; for the woman who could not travel much. I love this idea and will suggest it to my mother, who would like to be cremated and has not traveled very much at all.

    As far as for me personally, honestly, I haven’t thought much about it. I suppose I am too busy looking at death as it relates to others. Thinking about it now, I would want to be buried. As a history enthusiast, and because my grandfather is very much involved in genealogy, I would need to have that spot and that stone. When he finally finds that particular tombstone and stands before it, it is quite special for him (and for me too, as I listen to him talk about it). I would hope that 100 years from now that if someone were looking for me, they would also get that sense of appreciation as they stand on my spot.

  41. WV Bumblebee says:

    So having beat cancer 3 times I have given death some thought. I don’t dwell on it but I’m divorced and my daughter is an only child so yes it has been discussed.

    Don’t care how I die as long as it’s not painful, I really don’t like pain. I do however want to be cremated. That way my daughter can move and take me with her. That way she won’t feel guilty about moving and leaving me in the ground and alone. Also it’s way cheaper than having a funeral service.

    So there’s my thoughts on death.