My Death

It seems possible that I will die someday. I put the odds at 50/50. Because of that (and because I just finished Season 3 of “Six Feet Under”… goddamnit Lisa) I’ve been thinking a lot about what I would like to happen if I die. This probably isn’t legally binding, but I wish it was.

  1. My partner gets to make all the decisions. I’ve talked to her at length about this and she knows me best.
  2. If there is any money available (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA etc), I want that to be divided in half. The first half goes to Anna. The second half is divided again evenly among the children of the following people: Jordan Neiger, Sean Neiger, Kevin Neiger, Kayla Neiger, Colton Neiger, Kim Anderson Dean, Josh McIntyre, John Sleeman, Adam Cuppy, Blayne Bennett, and Megan Roberts. Most of them haven’t had children yet, but if they do I would want my finances to support them. I guess if they have kids after I die they are SOL… better start pumping out babies if you want a share of my wealth (again, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA etc)
  3. I don’t really care what happens to my remains. I’ll be dead and the odds are pretty good I won’t care. Even if there is a life of some sort after this it probably doesn’t involve fretting over the condition of my remains. Do what you need to do to be happy.
  4. But, if you would be happy by doing something with my body that I want done with it then these are my thoughts… First, donate whatever you can to those in need. Second, don’t cremate my body or pump it full of chemicals. Third, take it out to nature somewhere and just let nature do it’s things. I’ve always loved the desert and forests, but any place will do. Let the animals and bugs eat me, let my chemicals breakdown and return to nature. From my body will be other life, and that is kind of badass.
  5. As far as a funeral, it is for you so do what you want to heal and be happy. But, it’d be pretty cool if beer was available and someone played some Kesha (I’d recommend her acoustic album). Again, this is for you so do what you need to be happy and move on.

Death is something that most people don’t like to think about. I don’t particularly like thinking about it, but it doesn’t frighten me. Death may come for us all. With our likely limited lives we should spend our time and energy on loving each other and living in the moment. Try new things, take changes, get the heart rate up, and use what time we have wisely. Take care of your body, but just enough so that it works well. Tell people you love them in whatever way you can… words are hard for some, so maybe hug them or give them a gift or look them in the eye. If there is something you want to do (bungee jumping, get a tattoo, have a foursome, etc) but are afraid I think you should do them sooner rather than later. Hell, do it this weekend if doing so won’t leave you homeless or unable to afford another meal. If you end up on a death bed your memories will be on those experiences, how they made you grow and challenged your sense of being, and not on the day-to-day monotony. And most of all, just love.

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What comes after this?

In the last 10 days I have had a close friend die and I finished reading “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes & Other Stories from the Crematory” by Caitlin Doughty. My thoughts have been on death a lot. The book has had me thinking a lot about what I want done with my body if* I die, while KJ’s death has me thinking about what could possibly happen to our souls/spirits/consciousness after death. This post is mostly about the former but I am going to write about the latter subject a bit in the near future.

“Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” really touched me in two ways. First, I definitely do not want my body to be buried in the traditional sense and I probably don’t want any type of cremation. I guess it really won’t be up to me though, and I shouldn’t care. I’ll be dead. What happens to this shell has no bearing on my future happiness, so if my partner wishes to bury or cremate my body she is free to do that. Hell, she can do whatever she wants with it… if it makes her happy or provides some comfort then I support it. It is unlikely that she will do either of those though.

My plan for my body would be to return it to nature in some way. No elaborate procedures to make my corpse look “life-like” for a ceremony or anything. I’d rather my body be laid to rest in the woods where the animals and bugs and environment can consume me.  I’ve eaten meat before and there is something romantic to me about letting other animals eat me. Maybe plant over me so that my cells can create more life… maybe an oak, I love oak trees. At the very least I’d like to be buried without a casket or anything and let the worms have me.

The second message from the book is that the western world has an unhealthy relationship with death. We pretend it doesn’t exist, we hide our elderly, we do anything we can to maintain the image of youth. For really the first time in human history we are not surrounded by death. Children used to die regularly, families lived with elderly relatives until death, and family members were responsible for cleaning and maintaining bodies after someone died. Now, we push that all onto businesses who charge hundreds and thousands of dollars to spare us from confronting our own immortality. Perhaps we wouldn’t fear death as much if we saw it and touched it regularly like our ancestors did.

Another part of our fear of death is fear of the unknown. It is strange, but I was afraid of death a lot more when I was a Christian than I do now that I am an atheist. My religion made me always wonder if I was truly “saved” but now I don’t fear death. I think there are three basic possibilities for what happens to our consciousness after death: it disappears because it is permanently attached to our bodies, it continues to exist but in another form or body in this universe, or it continues to exist but moves on to some sort of afterlife. I see no reason to fear any of those…. but more on that later.

Death is natural. It isn’t something we can stop. We can make healthy choices that will likely prolong it (eat a plant-based diet, exercise regularly, get checked by a doctor, minimize stress, have a strong community, don’t interact with cops, etc) but in the end we don’t have much control over it, and we shouldn’t really worry about or fear things outside of our control.

* I’m still a transhumanist and believe we will someday cure all the diseases that cause death… maybe within my lifetime but maybe not. I hope to have the option of immortality but we may not be there yet.