Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Doesn't He look Good?

A good friend of my husband died recently. He fought the cancer battle for two years. My husband and he worked together for 12 years. Pete was in his early sixties, robust and healthy for most of those years. He was a large man with a loud voice. There was no way to lose him in a crowd. If he wasn't seen he was heard. I once accused him of bellowing orders. He laughed at me. But two years ago he learned he had cancer.

We are all going to lose the battle with death sometime. Most of us hope we can put it off for, well, forever. But we know that won't happen. Seeing Pete as he lay in his casket made me keenly aware of that. The big guy we were used to had shrunk to a shell of himself. People would stop by and look at him and think, "He looks good, doesn't he?". Really? You should have paid more attention to him. He does not look good. He looks dead. Why do people always say the person " looks good" or "they made him look good"? A human being who is no longer alive doesn't look good.

Seeing a friend lying in a casket makes me think of my future. I'm about the same age that Pete was. How many years will I have? That answer is not given to anyone. We all hope to live many healthy and productive years. We have things we want to do or places we would like to see. The one thing it reminds us is that life is really short. No matter the age at death, there was never enough time. One thing that really bothers me is that death brings so much sadness. Why? Sure we will miss that person. But life goes on. Are we sad at the loss or do we mourn our future?

Funerals bring family and friends together to honor and reflect on the life of the departed. We may also realize what we took for granted. Every funeral I have ever been to was tinged with sadness. When I go I don't want people to be sad. I want them to think, "Thank God the old bat is gone!" Well, maybe not. But I have always hated funerals and burials. I have always wanted someone to have a party and laugh, not cry. Remember the good times. Put the money someone would spend on a casket/funeral to use helping someone else. Yes I know that tradition and relgious upbringing dictate that we give the deceased this homage. But does it get us to Heaven any faster? Nobody has ever come back from the dead to give any information.

Even as a kid I thought a cemetary was a waste of space. Yes, I know what most people think. "I want a place where I can be close, or talk..." Then we move and never get back. Just what do we say to a plot of ground or a headstone? 'Hi, how are you doing? How's the weather?" There is less and less land available. The oceans are losing the reef structures. I thought I would like to be creamated and my ashes made into part of a reef. Or I thought I would like to have my ashes thrown into the ocean. Of course I am also a cheapskate. Cremation is cheaper. Then again, I'd rather not think that my family has to share custody of the urn. Knowing my family...nevermind.

I just would rather people remember me in the good times. I don't think I will look good dead. I can't see myself in a box that cost several thousand dollars. I'd rather know that a round of drinks for all in celebration of my life, not death. And please, don't anyone say "Doesn't she look good".


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Lisa Lewis Koster said...

I've thought the same thing...I wouldn't want money wasted on a casket. I'd rather my husband find me a cheap pine box and use the money on someone who needs it.

I also don't think anyone dead looks good. I'd rather have people think of me as living in heaven for eternity than just gone from the face of the earth.

Thanks for your insights from a first-time reader :)

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Pebble Princess said...

I think most people just mean the undertaker did a good job making the body's appearance look close to what the person looked like alive. That takes way too long to say.

It is just a shell at that point, after all.

I'll think about your comments next time I'm in front of an open casket, and if the undertaker did a good job on the shell, I'll use the longer description so no one misunderstands! :)

I like funerals in the sense that I see people coming face-to-face with reality-- that we will not live in these bodies forever. Perhaps it helps people consider the important Truths of life, and as the psalmist wrote, "LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered, and that my life is fleeing away."