Friday, March 13, 2009

Death Party

grim reaperA coworker of mine had to leave early yesterday to attend a funeral. It was the wife of a friend of his who died from cancer at the age of forty. Having just celebrated crossed my forty-first birthday, I took note.

My coworker returned to work today and said that the funeral had been totally arranged by the woman who died. Previous to her death (last Friday) she had arranged for all the songs to be played, and even wrote a statement to be read to the people attending the funeral. Her final wishes were for the people at the funeral to remember her and to help her husband take care of her children. It sounded very sad. I don't know the woman at all, but the whole thing sounds depressing, preparing for your death because you pretty much know the exact date of its occurrence.

A couple of years ago my parents brought me a slideshow that was shown at the funeral of my aunt. When I was 18 I left home for college and she was my nearest relative. She was a very assertive and opinionated lady, in a hilarious way. I wasn't fond of her children, but I loved her like crazy. She suffered from "Pick's disease" also known as Frontotemporal Dementia. Basically your brain degenerates, especially affecting your social behavior. It is easily the most horrible way to go. First you lose your mind, then your ability to care for yourself, then you die.

The slideshow was horrible. It began with pictures from her childhood and progressed through her life. But the pictures from the end of her life showed a completely different person. Definitely not the woman I knew when I was growing up. It might have been wise to cut those pictures from the presentation, but then there would have been none of her with her great-grandchildren.

My aunt obviously had no input into the composition of the slide show. If she could have decided 30 years ago I guarantee you she would not have wanted people to see her in those final few years when she had no idea what was happening. But at least she didn't have to suffer through the depressing and frightening experience of preparing her own funeral.

I'm not sure what the best way to go is right now. All I can come up with at this moment is "hit by a bus." Surely there's something better?

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