“People fear what they don’t understand and hate what they can’t conquer.” – Andrew Smith
“I feel like I died 20 years ago, and I live like a man who’s dead already.” – Malcolm X
Death is a fascinating concept. Everyone knows it’s coming, simply because there isn’t one person walking on the face of the earth who was born in the beginning of time and is still around, in their physical form, today. People are born, they live, and they die. In between, the best people can do is be as productive as possible with the time they’re given to live.
Smith’s quote makes sense in the vein that death can’t be conquered. All the weightlifting, 5Ks, half marathons and full marathons in the world isn’t going to change the fact that, eventually, everyone has an expiration date. All the clean eating in the world isn’t going to change the fact that when it's time to go, it's time to go. All the abstinence won’t change that. All the promiscuity won’t change that. All the time spent keeping up with the Joneses, or marching to the beat of your own drum won’t change that. Death has a perfect percentage from the field, a perfect batting average at the plate and the best quarterback rating in the history of life. When it comes to the education of life, it has a 4.0 GPA. It doesn’t mean a damn thing what people think about death; it’s going to happen. Malcolm’s quote is merely an extension how some people feel about life when it comes at them fast. It’s as genuine and as abrupt of a realization one can have.
Despite that, there are still not only plenty of reasons to live, but there are plenty of reasons to be prepared for your loved ones to take care of things you can’t speak on anymore or have any input on because, well, you’re dead. On top of that, it gives a person an opportunity to learn. It gives a person an opportunity to plan post-life circumstances, how to approach death, planning a funeral, a will, all of the stuff that comes along with post-life. Admittedly, this idea came from the courage of Mark Trible, one of the best writers and thinkers in the universe and someone who did this in the middle of 2015 (1). His story, his words, and his vision provides what this is all about.
The first thing that would have to be at the church would be bags of Skittles in every pew. Depending on the circumstances, people will already be sad as it is, and everyone coming and seeing a bag of Skittles strewn out across every pew in church would, at the least, allow people to relax and have a good laugh. Someone could make the trip to Costco or Sam’s and get enough 12-pack boxes of Skittles to make sure everyone is taken care of. The pastor would have to have some also. To take it a step further, he or she would have to open the bag and eat a few before they begin the eulogy. If nothing else, it would make me laugh even though I wouldn’t be there. The thought of a pastor giving the eulogy with the congregation chiming in with “Amen,” “Yessuh,” and “Right on,” while smacking on a combination of red and yellow Skittles makes me laugh just thinking about it. Since a bag of Skittles in each pew is mentioned, that pretty much settles that a ceremony should happen. Just one ceremony; no point in people needing to take more than one day off from work.
Here’s the…unfortunate reality about death. People tend to bring flowers for each other after they’re dead; that’s just how it is. It sucks that people don’t get together as much just for the hell of it; nope, it takes death, and there are people in life that don’t know they are connected with each other through friendships and relationships with the deceased, so a ceremony is vital. With that said, it does not need to be grandiose; hell, everyone there is going to have a bag of Skittles for fuck’s sake, so the ceremony doesn’t need to be a damn production. David Bowie didn’t want any public or private ceremonies when he passed. His logic was his music was good enough for him to be remembered by (2). In his case, that makes perfect sense. Plus, it eliminates potential issues associated with funerals such as presentation. Speaking of which…
Under no circumstances should a casket with a body be present. Funerals are already conflicting enough and, as mentioned earlier, the only reasons a ceremony is even wanted in this case is so people who haven’t seen each other in ages, or who haven’t seen each other at all, can come together under a united cause. Unfortunately, it takes death of a loved one to bring people together along with weddings and (maybe) graduations. Anyway, no casket, no suit, none of that. The thought of being underground or in a tomb is probably the one thing about death that has always been troublesome, simply because you’re surrounded by darkness in such an enclosed area.
Cremation would have to be the way to go. It can even be taken a step further by putting the ashes in an urn like the one Paul Bearer used to carry when he led The Undertaker out to the ring back in the early-90s in the WWF days. The old-school urn that never opened up and was just all-around dope would do the trick. If there’s confusion about the urn, ask any of the homies who watch wrestling, or Google “Paul Bearer and The Undertaker Survivor Series 1991,” and that will do the trick. Plus, it’s a lot cheaper. Despite the rhetoric of death being a celebration of life, it doesn’t mean this celebration has to be an expensive one.
The average cost of a funeral is over $6,000 (3) with a casket costing around $2,000, and the last thing anyone should do is sit up in a funeral home having debates about what kind of casket I would look good in. That’s absurd. Besides, who’s going see the casket after the funeral and after being laid to rest at the grave site anyway? Why spend that kind of money on something that can’t be passed down to someone else who needs it when they go? Also, the casket has to go somewhere and the cost of the vault brings the grand total of the funeral to over $7,000 (3). The thought of that much money to lay me to rest is ridiculous and, when it’s all said and done, unnecessary, especially when the cost of a cremation and a decent memorial goes for around $1,600 (3). Plus, the issue of being surrounded by darkness and being underground is eliminated. Cut the shit, cremate the kid, and put the ashes in an old-school Undertaker urn.
Mark Gruenwald, longtime editor of Marvel Comics, wrote in his will that he wanted his ashes to be mixed in with ink used in one of his Marvel comic titles (4), and his wish was fulfilled. That’s pretty damn awesome and something that would have never crossed my mind until reading up on it recently. As much as reading and writing are a part of the daily existence of my life, there has been nothing written yet that constitutes that level of reverence and respect. Maybe the ashes can go into an ink pen or something and the pen can be given to one of the nephews if they decide to pick up writing one day. Also, the pen doesn’t need to be engraved with any type of meaning. The pen can be nice enough so they aren’t compelled to lend it out to anyone or leave it laying around for someone else to snatch up.
Where it gets a little weird with cremation is a cremation certificate has to be signed after death (1) and it has to be arranged with a funeral parlor. There is a possibility of objection to this request from the people who aren’t dying, but it isn’t their death, so since the request is cremation, sign the damn certificate and let’s have a cremation. Putting a cremation request in the will isn’t the best idea, because there are times when a will isn’t looked at for weeks after a death…which we will address now.
The will, aka the fun stuff. Who gets all the fun stuff? Well, one thing Trible mentioned is the will is a working document. See, situations change and if things were to just end tomorrow, all the fun stuff (money and social media passwords) would go to my youngest sister. If things end 20 years from now, all of the fun stuff will still go to her unless kids become a part of the equation. Besides, when it comes to money, what I have is hers anyway. In the scope of social media, she is the most social media-savvy person I know, so she would get all of the passwords to all social media accounts used; blogs, Twitter, IG, Facebook, all that. There isn’t much to maintain honestly, so her job would be pretty easy. All of the medical decisions would go to one of my uncles, because no siblings are ready for that kind of heavy stuff. One of the uncles can handle it since it’s a specific request.
Any furniture can go to Goodwill. That would be simple enough. The only other possessions that really deserve to be put to use, with a specific purpose, would be shoes and books. All shoes would go to Soles 4 Souls, a nonprofit which gives away shoes and other pieces of clothing to the less fortunate that Gotty mentioned in conversation a long time ago. It would be kind of cool for some folks to get the Jordans, LeBrons and Kyries that are just collecting dust in the closet when they’re not being worn. As it goes for books, this is where it gets a little tricky. Ideally, the goal would be to start a mini-library of sorts; a library that would possess all the books read over the years, and anyone could come and read them as they wished. One of the issues with that is a location and, at the moment, there isn’t one, but who knows? Maybe that will change in time.
Image courtesy of Camping Road Trip.