Will You Bury Me?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a funeral. You know, the one I would like to have? Yeah, that one. I’ve lost a few friends and family this past six months and this leads to these thoughts. I don’t think I am morbid or obsessed; although some would argue otherwise. It’s just that I have stage IV cancer and these thoughts are just natural. Actually they feel ingrained in me. Thoughts sown by a frightening diagnosis with a dismal prognosis to accompany it. It’s really not as horrible as it sounds. These notions don’t scare me they just feel normal. For example, my husband and I often converse about my wishes (and his) in the event of my eventual demise with the frequency that most folks our age talk about retirement. We talk about retirement too but I think all can agree that none of us get out of this life with our earthly bodies intact. We just don’t. And facing my cancer has forced some literal “cryptic” thinking upon me. 

As I look back over the last five years I find that my feelings have changed concerning not the end of my life, because that has been hashed and rehashed plenty, but more what will happen once I have breathed my last and my spirit has been freed to fly to the heavenly realms. What will happen to the body that has housed my soul these last 50 odd years or so. When I was first diagnosed, the news of my stage IV anal cancer was fresh and we thought my death was imminent my desires were clear. I blogged about it as I struggled to recover from my first rounds of treatment. I had cheated death, at least for the time being, or so it seemed, so I was comfortable in proclaiming, not so subtly, how I wanted things to be when I became extinct. I struggled with the lack of control I would have once I was actually gone. Ponder that a minute. You can have all the “last wishes” you want to have but in the end those around you can choose to do anything they want and there is not a damn thing you can do about it. You just have to trust the people you love and that love you back that they will honor your desires for your going out party. I don’t have to worry about that...at least I think I don’t so; I haven’t lost a wink of sleep over it. I was pretty insistent on where and how I was to be placed below terra firma back in 2010. Since those early days filled with turmoil, despair and panic I have calmed down considerably and have been lucky enough to have time to re-think some of my early decisions. I always thought I wanted to be buried in Wichita and have since changed my mind to be interred in my husband's hometown somewhere within the eight plots that his parents purchased just about five years ago. You may recall my response when they offered one to me as I recovered from first rounds of chemo when they were “babysitting” me once. I thought it was hilarious! Of course here I am now wanting one of those very plots so I can rest eternally next to my husband. On a side note, I want his plot to be on the end next to the road placing me to his left. My reasons being that first, that’s how we have always slept and second, as I am likely to go first I do not want a potential “second” wife horning in on my turf. I was here first. She can find her own burial plots! I also thought I wanted to be buried in my favorite old pair of “skinny” jeans. Now I think I would rather have a nice dress, maybe something in blue. Or maybe a nice pair of pajamas. I love my jammies. I mean, this is eternal rest here. 

I often wonder why my husband isn’t “weirded out” when I brooch topics that concern how I want things to be. Maybe it’s because I do it pretty often. Maybe he does think it’s odd and just doesn’t say anything and let’s me plan and re-plan my funeral with what seems like peculiar regularity. I have discovered that a funeral has about as many details as a wedding. I took about a year to plan my wedding. As the bride, I sorted through all kinds of details. My dress, my bridesmaids, invitations, announcements, the cake, the reception. My dear husband remembers those planning days differently than me. As I planned he tried his best to match my steps much like a ballroom dance partner. I picked four bridesmaids he knew he had to find four groomsmen. I picked the tuxedo style and he just agreed. I changed my mind dozens of times over details and he just kept saying “You tell me what to do and I will do it.” He was true to his word. He showed up on what was definitely one of the most happy days of my life and did what I asked because he loved me. I’m sure he was in awe of what a whirlwind occurred from one simple question “Will you marry me?”  

For sure there is one detail that has never changed with all my “celebration of life” plans. I do not want to be cremated. Nope. Not me. Not even a consideration. Something just bothers me about being incinerated. I don’t care if I am dead, it just doesn’t sit well with me. I have written it down of course, but you know I often wonder if my husband is taking mental notes when I change things up in my plans. I admit I look to him with the same love he professed in his proposal all those years ago as I wonder aloud  “Will you bury me?”

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I cried n laughed when I read this post. I love ur writing. U give me such inspiration. Of course I worry about my cancer returning but I also worry for a good friend just diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma. Thank u for posting
Michele likes this comment
I also love your writing. Your written words, I'm sure, resonate with a lot of us on this site. It's funny, but I don't care about my funeral. I wouldn't even want one but my partner insists on a wake, with an open casket (that part is scary for me) so that people can say goodbye to me, not a coffin. I want to be cremated and my ashes scattered over water. I can't stand the idea of my earth vehicle being locked in a casket with dirt on top. Too confining. Hahaha. Lovely Tuesday morning conversation.😂
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Michele, write everything down, and/or make a videotape to make it perfectly clear what you want- you deserve this. Give a copy to your friend and to your hubby.
A lot of people feel that creamation is the ultimate way of saying 'FU' to cancer, but I'm with you, I'd prefer to avoid anything resembling the fires of hell, here on earth or otherwise.

I also like your deductive reasoning to pick the spot to keep your hubby's potential 2nd wife shoehorned out of the neighborhood- that's a good one and cracks me up. Having an 'exit plan' is a sure way to live a whole lot longer than you ever planned, so why not? Surprise everybody and live another 25 years!
I can picture you with a can of spray paint at the cemetery marking everybody's spot and putting names on the plots- that ought to freak out the rest of his family!
Comfy clothes a must- had a relative laid to rest in a nightgown she loved and another in the sweat shirt/pants that she was most comfortable in - including tennis shoes! Maybe one of the few perks of cancer- you CAN you plan your 'celebration of life' while those who succumb to an instant cardiac event never could plan their 'end of life event'. Even pick-out the music at church.
Morbid to some perhaps, but do it while you are of 'sound mind and body' and then you can forget about it and go on living your life.
MGBY,
John


Michele, Carol like this comment
It's so nice to know others have the same thoughts! I was just telling my husband the other day that I've been thinking about death a lot. I was thinking that I would like to live a long life and when I died it was beecause I prayed to God and told him I was ready to go. I guess it's my way of trying to substitute the "stage IV cancer is going to kill me" thoughts with something more peaceful. You write about a topic all of us can relate to. And yes, my husband and I talk about death, funeral plans, etc. more than most people. My big hang up is being embalmed.
Michele likes this comment
Hug!!
You rock
Michele likes this comment
You write about something we think about. I think you should make all the plans you want. I remember when Jim passed, I was lost and didn't know what to do, even though he talked about it for months, my mind was a blank. He had donated his body to the medical school, so I didn't have to rush to make funeral arrangements and that was a blessing. I would hope you tell everyone what you want so it doesn't fall to one person.
Well I'll stop preaching now.

Hugs

Don
It's all written down and everybody knows my wishes...I have not kept it a secret LOL!
Well, considering the fact that one if my favorite pastimes is strolling through cemeteries and perusing tombstones, you're preaching to the choir here, lol. You are such a lovely and warm person, with lots of faith. And this us why you can talk about death without fear and for the natural part id the circle of life that it is. As Americans, sometimes we look at things differently. Three of my Grandparents and my Father were European and had a very different outlook on the aging process and death, although they loved this country. I think that's where I get my pride in getting older. I welcome gray hair and wrinkles, lol. Take the plot. We will all need one, someday, long time from now. You're not goin' anywhere. I forbid it. Hug and kiss on cheek.
Michele, Carol like this comment
I think it's ok your thinking of how you want to be honored, me and my mother-in-law talk about this every now and then. I told my husband he can just have me cremated, so I can be with him always. Or he can bury me beside our female cat that died last January. She was our baby!! We all know we will die, we just don't know when! My son has stage 4 Colon Cancer, but I don't think he's even thought about his funeral. I've asked him a few things about it, but I don't like bringing it up!! I really want to get a plan so when it does happen, we want be planning it being upset!! I think women are more about planning! Prayers for healing! Hugs, Lenae
Michele likes this comment
I meant to add on my post, tell Tammie I said "Hello" .
I will!
I am a planner too, must be the nurse in us, lol. I like to have everything detailed out and checked off for accuracy. Glad we are able to talk about this freely here, it freaks some people out, but we all have to go, and we want it our way don't we? I'm loving your plot selection reasoning!
Since I'm so big on genealogy, I think it's important to leave a place, not just disappear into the wind. But that's me. One of my favorite discoveries in a graveyard once was the message on this gentleman's stone: "Thanks for stopping by". I found it warm, welcoming and comforting, and it made me wish I had known him.
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That's so cute. Ray "pigpen " McKernan, one if the founding members of the Grateful Dead, passed in 1972 or 1973; his stone reads: Always was and forever will be one of the grateful dead!
Michele likes this comment
I once heard someone say that they believed that as the women on the Titanic were going down with the ship, they must have been thinking "Thank God I had dessert." That is to be my epitaph--I'm serious.
Michele, Carmen like this comment
I'm heading to a funereal tomorrow, an aunt who passed from cancerous tumor in her brain. I had not thought about my funeral or burial, but I guess that's just my procrastination, I'm not creeped out about it, just don't think about it. I've never been a planner though,
Don
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I don't know if I enjoyed reading this entry because of your apparent writing prowess or bec. morbid humor is my favorite kind release. Probably a little of both. I can tell you that as a caregiver, I shared these same conversations with my dad during different phases of his battle with pancreatic cancer. And as I am leaving this comment for you now, I can still clearly recall each one. It's a strange place to find yourself with your loved one - but I think that the planning part definitely gave him a place to have a say in the matter. It sounds like you have a great partner that will honor your wishes. ...And not that you were polling for opinions from the cheap seats but --- for what it's worth ---- I hope that you go with the jammies idea.
Michele likes this comment
Michele, THIS is my favorite, of your musings; so-to-speak. Many years ago, I wrote a poem, in college, on death. About 13-14 years ago.. It was titled, "Who Will Come To MY Funeral??"
I wrote it after reading the obituary of my high school Home Ec teacher, while visiting my dad.... She was only 44. Cancer. Everyone and their dog--including my dad, attended. I cried so hard. I was sobbing...
. I remember the h.s. History teacher (and football coach) courting her (small town)..I attended their wedding; in the park-- with the red of the town. I remember, my first year out of h.s. Visiting. She was pregnant with their first child. And so excited...
"Ms. Lewin" went into social work a couple of years after I graduated. In her obituary, which was LONG, were accolades given to her for the many strides she made during her years as a Social worker, to change laws, in Oregon, to help children.
I remember the rules she taught us the four years I had her as a teacher---which I still use....
. She left behind three teenaged boys and, if course, her husband.
At that juncture un my life I had regrets in my "failures". Lack of accomplishment.bI was jaded from working in OB. Was I mean?? So as ai wondered, at the end if het obituary, while singing, "Who will go to MY funeral?"
. You ask, "Will You Bury Me?". I think, Michele, at that time, you and I won't care. We will be in the presence of God. At peace. And I can FINALLY ask God, "Lord, Just WHY did you create Fire Ants??!!" 😆...

Blessings to you, Michele, and to your husband.
P.S. Don't gave my contacts in. Pleas forgive typos!!
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I think a lot of readers will relate to this. Good post! When it was up in the air whether the treatment was working or not, I too made my funeral plans. My first request: Make sure I'm wearing the good wig! Lol My outfit choice: favorite black leather jacket and knee boots, jewelry friends and family had given me for good luck (the irony), a white racer back tank top and my favorite jeans. I got stuck picking a song for the service though and still haven't completed the plans to this date. You have reminded me to complete those plans, thanks!
Michele likes this comment
I love this post. I've tried to let my family know my wishes even before my cancer diagnosis, no one wants to hear it, lol. Sticking your head in the sand doesn't change life's realities. I want to be cremated. I really don't care where they spread my ashes, as long as they blow in the wind. I don't want to sit in an urn. I want someplace remote. I don't want people to bring flowers and visit me after I'm gone. Love me and visit me in life, you can't do that with flowers when I'm gone. RIP means rest in peace, and that's what I want. I love the saying remember me with smiles and laughter, for that's the way I'll remember you. If you can only remember me with tears and sadness, then don't remember me at all.
Michele likes this comment
Thanks for a sweet post. We decided a long time ago that we would be cremated, before my wife's Stage 4 PC diagnosis. She wants me to save her ashes until I am gone, then our kids will scatter the ashes together on a favorite place. I like the idea of our remains being intermixed for all time.
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I have thought of these things before I was dx with Cancer. I would often visit our family cemetery in South Georgia and think this is where I want to be next to the people I loved the most. I often wonder if my dear husband will follow suite as he tinkers with the thought of becoming a part of a concrete reef where the fish can come and nibble on has ashes. Strange how this sounds, but it is like planning a wedding. It is a celebration of life.
Michele likes this comment
I have read your post again and again. I've also read the responses. Your post has opened another door for us at BFAC to express ourselves and "discuss" an important topic. I do hope this doesn't freak out some newcomers, like Elizabeth, who are just starting treatment. Those of us who have survived this journey know that the diagnosis of cancer is not a death sentence, but it does help those of us (like me) that lived a very healthy life before this diagnosis, to come to terms with a well known fact. We all die someday. I've already written about my wishes. I omitted one piece. At my wake I'd like there to be music. I'll have to compile a song list that includes some of my favorite music, but Peggy Lee singing "is that all there is" will definetly be on it.
Michele, Carmen like this comment
Yet another great blog Michele! I think it's notable how our thoughts change from when we are first diagnosed to those of us who are five years or more out. Time does indeed give us perspective. Of course it helps when you have a wonderful husband who will do everything to fulfill your wishes and I know you would do the same for him.
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Vital Info

Posts

October 3, 2011

Click Here

January 31, 1963

Cancer Info

Anal Cancer

Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the anus

February 5, 2010

Stage 4

2.1 - 3.0 cm

Grade 3

No

As much as possible

Proceeds from my published blog donated monthly

It is a thief

You have to live every day of your life and stay positive :)

Donate $$ to the anal cancer foundation. Raising awareness saves lives!

Is there anything good about poison?

Bone, lung recurrence 9/20/2012

Cancer Center of Kansas, MD Anderson

Bland diet, sitz baths, take your drugs...nobody gets extra credit for suffering.

Talk, talk, talk to somebody. I chose to write.

April 20, 2010

September 20, 2010

Rectal bleeding, itching, sciatic pain. (thought my hemorhoid was acting up)

My blog has been published and proceeds go to The HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation. http://tinyurl.com/72bjjfp

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