When I examine myself and my interests, careers I would love to pursue narrow down to these general chunks:
• Nature (plants, animals, marine life, the outdoors, you name it)
• Art (crafting, painting, drawing, visual storytelling, essentially any and everything)
• Death (Caring for the dead, solving deaths, even sects that only remotely touch on death such as paleopathology, etc)
So today, ladies and gentlemen, we're going to focus on death! Yay! I came across this article today. It was written by a man named Eric Puchner. The intro peeks into the day to day of a funeral director:
"Caleb Wilde is a sixth-generation funeral director who wants to reacquaint us all with the uncomfortable, eye-opening realities of death. It’ll make us more human, he says. If it doesn’t kill him first."
I read it through both with fascination and agreement in his points that we are now a culture very disconnected from death. (This opinion is also held by a youtube series I subscribe to called Ask A Mortician, aka, The Order of the Good Death.) Historically, families always washed, dressed, and buried their own. Now it feels like a much more sterile process - and one that involves many more chemicals, preservation, and distance from the deceased. (I remember in one youtube video, the host of Ask A Mortician expressed her awe and/or confusion that many times she's the last person the deceased is with before they are cremated - odd considering how unloving it appeared from her perspective that they end up with someone who knew nothing of them.)
I've often thought about my own death and how I would like my body treated when I'm gone. A green burial seems like the best option if I don't end up donating my body to science. I confess that it's made me feel weird that people would try to preserve a shell at the sacrifice of the environment. (Don't even get me started on elaborate caskets with pillows, trim, and airtight capabilities. Airtight or not with all of our fancy pillows and doilies, we all rot the same.) A few years ago NPR aired an interesting piece that interviewed medical students who dissected donated bodies. Each expressed how grateful they were in getting to know the person and being given the opportunity to learn from their gift. Many also spoke of how it almost became a story that unfolded because they would uncover health ailments that lead them to conclusions about how that person must have lived his/her life.
My dad speaks occasionally of when he dies and has a small number of requests for his funeral. He wants it to be fun (or as fun as a funeral can be), and he wants lots of stories about him that make people smile and laugh while at the same time making him look like a badass at life. For example, he wants to make sure that everyone knows that at least once in his life, a car salesman paid him to take a car. (True story!)
In many cultures, the death of a loved one becomes a celebration of their life and tribute is paid to their story at least once a year. How often do we choose to remember the dead in our own culture? I would almost stretch to say that many opt to forget because "sad" can be too hard to experience. I believe that true acceptance of death will ease the burdens of pain, not increase them. (Though it will never take them away.) It will make the relationships that matter more solid because we know, ingrained within us, that they won't always be there. And neither will we.
This is a space separate of my house blog. Here is where you'll find a little bit of everything. I'll try to avoid vapid posts - but no promises.