I don't fear death. It's inevitable for all of us. What I do fear is being forgotten or nobody caring that I'm gone. I fear leaving a legacy of pain and regret instead of cherished memories.
When I die, I want people to remember me, hopefully fondly. I want people to reflect on the ways that I may have positively impacted their lives. I want my legacy to be that I helped others to thrive. I want to be remembered as an overcomer, too.
My desire to help others shouldn’t stop upon my death, so I want anything useful to be harvested from my body to help others. If my heart will help another live for years to come, I want them to have it, especially if that heart will still beat for someone who gives compassion. I want my eyes to help another to see, especially if they will see those who feel invisible. If my larynx can give someone a voice so they may speak up, especially for others, please take it. If my organs can give people life, doing good even in my death, then this is how I want to live on.
I'm not a saint by any means. I simply want to keep doing good because I have amends to make that I'm sure I'll never complete in this life. Maybe I can help someone live long enough to right their own wrongs.
If harvesting what is useful from my body does not make it impossible, and if the circumstances of my death don't prohibit it, I'd like to have an open casket. I don't relish being remembered dead, but others, I think, may benefit by the closure an open casket affords. I don't need to be made up ridiculously, it's only temporary anyway. I'd like to be cremated instead of buried whole. A burial plot feels like a waste of land to me.
During my funeral, two things are important to me. I want Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings" to be played by a string quartet. No other music has ever moved me like this piece has. I want those who attend my funeral to feel, even a little bit, the stirring in their hearts that I feel from this masterpiece. Please choose skilled musicians because this piece deserves to be played with the utmost respect.
Second, I don't care for eulogies. If I've done anything in life worth praising, let it speak for itself. But I do want people to share with each other their favorite memories of me. I've often found it healing when a loved one has died to recount, out loud to others, my favorite memories of the person. I want people to smile at my funeral, because of the fond times they share. I'd like these stories to be recorded so people can stir up in themselves, anytime they wish, memories that will make them smile.
If anyone attends my funeral who is still angry with me, let them hear the memories of others to hopefully find forgiveness and healing. If anyone attends my funeral who harmed me in this life, let them know that I take no resentment with me. I forgive them. Either way, I hope forgiveness will free these people to live their lives with joy and purpose.
Finally, if anyone sticks around, I'd like to be taken outside to a funeral pyre, laid out on a mix of woods. I want at least some cedar since I've always loved the smell. Cremation has always seemed like the right choice for me. I feel like it holds tremendous symbology, including an invitation to others to let their lives burn brightly. I hope this helps them make a positive impact so that others remember them fondly.
My ashes may be disposed of, buried, or scattered any way my loved ones see fit. However, I don't want my ashes to be a memorial. I also don't need a headstone, though I would concede to a small plaque if so desired by my loved ones. Let memories of me be my memorial. Let me live on by helping others to live on. Mourn my passing however you must, but honor me by living your life the best way you can.