My Funeral

I strongly want this to be read at my funeral:

We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds, it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.

Richard Dawkins, Unweaving the Rainbow

Since the first time I heard Dawkins speak these words in his beautiful manner, I knew it was what I wanted to be read at my funeral, even though I never really gave much thought to that before. But when I heard these words, I just knew that’s what I wanted. I then found out that Dawkins himself wants this (plus a little more) read at his own funeral.

I’m not planning on dying anytime soon. Life is good and I hope to continue a long, healthy, happy life. 🙂  But I figured I’d put this out there so that when I eventually do pass away, my wishes will be on record. I also don’t want any religious or supernatural traditions in my funeral whatsoever. This means that I don’t want any prayer or any mention of an afterlife or a god at my funeral. (However, what a person wants to do in private is up to him or her). I’m mentioning this because I’ve had some loved ones pass away who had funerals that were very different from the persons they were. So I want it to be clear that I don’t want my funeral to be religious and I want that to be read. Other than that, do what you want. I’ll be dead, so I guess I won’t know what you end up doing anyway, haha. 

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11 Comments to “My Funeral”

  1. Burial or cremation or donating your body to science?

  2. Thanks for bringing that up – that is also important to me! I definitely want to donate my organs to a patient and/or to science. The rest of my body can be cremated – or whatever method that exists at that time that is best for the environment.

  3. Yeah, I’m on the same page with you there. Burial seems like such a waste. Plus, do you know how much coffins cost?! (Even cremation urns are pricey.) I’d rather not burden my family financially when I go.

  4. Yeah, I definitely don’t want to be a financial burden. If anything, I’d like to just decay into the ground and be at one with the earth. Some people think that’s gross, but I think it’s kind of romantic in a way (not romantic in the sexual sense, of course). But I know that many people do get mental closure if it is open casket, so I guess I will have to be filled with formaldehyde. Maybe they’ll come up with something else by then.

  5. I also think about how much room cemeteries take up.

  6. It’s tough to think about, because you really do want to make sure you do things so that your loved ones get closure, and at the same time so many common ways of handling death and funerals seem pointless or wasteful. I definitely understand why an open casket gives people closure, though I couldn’t say one way or another if it has helped me in the past. I love the idea of having my ashes scattered someplace pretty though.

  7. Yeah, I know what you mean. Some people really need to see the person, even if they’re dead and in makeup. I’ve known some people who were cremated but had a viewing anyway, and I think about how much that cost. I guess it can be a tough call. I just want to do what’s easiest for those involved.
    Thanks for not thinking this post is weird, haha. I’m reading Christopher Hitchens’ memoir (Hitch-22) right now and it got me thinking, especially since he found out he had cancer shortly after the book was released. The prologue was sort of hard to read because of that.
    I always thought I wanted to be cremated. I think it’s cool because they can scatter your ashes in different places that were of importance to you. And that way they can still “visit you” without there being a grave site, if it helps them to cope. But then I’ve heard that there are environmental disadvantages to this. I haven’t really researched it to know what’s best, but I guess it’s still better than being buried. I think that I’d like to be cremated, unless something else better is invented.
    Have you thought about where you’d like to have your ashes? I haven’t. I guess there are places that I will visit in the future that I’ll think about. Or I’ll just leave it up to a loved one. I haven’t thought about it that far yet.

  8. Oh no, I don’t think it’s weird at all. It’s better to think about it (in a non-fatalistic kind of way). This culture has such a weird and unhealthy relationship with death, to think that talking about it openly is weird or morbid.
    I’ve thought idly about where I’d want my ashes, but I’m not sure if I’ve done enough living yet to have a spot where I know for sure I’d want them. Maybe Rehoboth beach, just because I’ve had so many good memories there.
    I suppose the best option is to save money for it all before you die and then let some of the particulars be up to the people you leave behind. But not everyone gets that kind of luxury.

  9. That’s a good point.
    Rehoboth sounds like it could be good for you, especially if you’ve had good memories there. Besides – it’s the beach 🙂

  10. i don’t know any of the specifics of it but there’s an organization that is essentially donating your body to science that’s completely free of charge. however that means you don’t get to do a viewing/funeral. that’s what my dad’s dad did, and what my uncle who is dying of cancer is planning to do. i don’t feel like there’s any reason to have to see the person lying dead in a coffin to have closure. and i agree that cemeteries are kind of a waste of space. in some countries you’re only buried for a certain period of time, then the space is reused for someone else.

  11. I remember my mom telling me that in South Korean (where she grew up), they buried a lot of people in the mountains because they didn’t have room.

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