Continuing That Thought…

My last post drew some wonderful comments, and prompted me to do a bit of whatever the cephalopod equivalent of navel-gazing is. Looking through some old posts, old comments, old links, and thinking of some recent funerals, got me wondering what sort of funeral I would want for myself. I used to have plans, actually, that included a Dixieland style jazz band and a party… but that was decades ago. After PZ posted it a while ago, I have Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Dirge Without Music” tacked up on my office wall–I found it comforting at the time, but I don’t know if it sounds right for my own funeral. I know that more than one person has requested to use one of my verses for their own memorials (one has recorded himself reading it, just for the occasion), so I’ll repost it here, and ask (in part because I have not decided, and I am looking for ideas–no rush, mind you!) what sort of readings, music, naked dancing, etc., you are mulling over for when your time comes.

The verse that some have chosen to accompany their memorial:

When we are dead, we’ll feed the worms
And other stuff that writhes and squirms
And if you cannot come to terms
With that—well, use your head!
There are no ifs nor ands nor buts:
Bacteria within our guts
Will start to eat us; that is what’s
In store, once we are dead.

Yes, life is short and full of toil,
And when we’ve shuffled off this coil
Our carcasses will start to spoil—
There’s nothing wrong with that.
Our share of fish or pigs or cows,
And all the chicken time allows,
Is done. It’s only fair that now’s
The worms’ turn to get fat.

Should we die young, or old and gray,
The laws of nature we’ll obey
And spend our heat in mere decay,
Replenishing the Earth;
“Three score and twelve” may be our years
For love and laughter, hope and fears
And then—mere smoke—life disappears;
No heaven, no rebirth.

And with no heaven up above
Nor hell we ought be frightened of
It’s best we fill our lives with love,
With learning, and with fun!
Don’t waste a lifetime while you wait
For halo, wings, and pearly gate—
This is your life, so get it straight:
You only get the one!

I’ll have no moment lost to prayer,
To cleanse my soul and thus prepare
For passage to… THERE’S NOTHING THERE!
Those moments, all, are wasted!
I’m only here a little time
Before it’s bugs and worms and slime;
I’ll eat and drink my life so I’m
Delicious when I’m tasted!

What are *your* plans?


  1. Becca Stareyes says

    I’m tempted to designate a few close friends and family members and tell them my funeral is their affair: they can do whatever they like that will make them feel better and help them grieve. Maybe give them a contact list of people I’m close to that I expect are also close to me. None of my family are very fundamentalist about religion, which is good, since I would insist on no fundie churches* — but more because I have plenty of non-Christian friends and I want them to feel welcome too.

    * Considering the only immediate family member I have who even belongs to a church is my sister, and she doesn’t even live in the same town as me. Also, I don’t think a Catholic church would conduct a funeral for someone who hasn’t been involved since she was baptized (and really needs to get her name off their records from that).

  2. says

    I’m odd, I know that, but I don’t understand why anyone would want a memorial ‘event.’ My instructions say no viewing of the body, prompt cremation, and no notice to anyone beyond an email to a short list of friends. When you’re gone, just go!

  3. Randomfactor says

    Cremation, mixture of the remains with those of my late wife, followed by spreading same at a nearby beach. If I’m feeling impish in my last days, I’ll specify a clothing-optional beach I’ve frequented. Sure, it’s against civil statutes, but who’s going to notice if the sand-castle buckets have more in them on the trek down to the beach than the trek back? Memorial service? Mine was also held with hers, four years ago. She was truly my better half.

  4. chezjake says

    I’ll have no actual funeral. I’ve already done all the paperwork to donate my body to medicine — for transplants if possible, or just for medical dissection. They’ll cremate whatever is left when they’re done with it.

    There will be a large party, held at a very fine local pub with good beer and good food, and there will be lots of singing. Anyone who mentions god or religion of any kind will be ejected.

  5. garysturgess says

    I have to join the chorus – I could not care less what is done with my body after death. I’ve made some sensible arrangements to look after my wife, and I’d hope she’s smart enough not to waste it on anything more than the minimal hygienic requirements on what remains of my meat.

    In the extremely unlikely event that the singularity occurs first, and I upload myself to a new robot body with fricking laser beams (because I have to tell you, I will be first in line – I don’t care how many of you I have to ruthlessly slaughter first. I’ll feel bad about it, but I’ll comfort myself with the thought of FRICKING LASER BEAMS) then I’ll dispose of meat-me myself. With Fricking Laser Beams.

  6. Ichthyic says

    I’m with Becca; whoever is close to me at the time can do whatever they like.

    funerals and memorials are for the living, not the dead.

  7. John Morales says

    I have no plans or expectations about my (possible) funeral, either.

    (My vanity and my ego will die with my body)

  8. Rodney Nelson says

    When I die my body gets sent to the local medical school for disassembly and spare parts. Whatever’s left will be cremated. My nephew has agreed to take the ashes to sea to add to the pollution of the ocean.

  9. bradleybetts says

    For a while i wanted to be burned, but lately I’m starting to think it would be nicer to be buried in a biodegradeable coffine and have a tree planted directly above it. That way, I get to feed new life! I have yet to decide what species of tree…

    I really like your poem, I may have that read while being interred. It seems very appropriate :)

  10. Cuttlefish says

    Make it an apple tree, bradleybetts, and you can feed your friends and relatives for generations to come! (those who are not a bit squicked out by it, that is…)

  11. bradleybetts says

    *Coffin. Also, this occurrs after they’ve removed anything that works, obv. There probably won’t be much… my lungs and liver will almost certainly be shot, for a start, but everything that does they’re welcome to :) and whatever’s left can make itself useful feeding the tree. It’s the closest to immortality we can get, when you think about it…

  12. bradleybetts says


    I really like the idea, but I’m not sure my relatives would be comfortable eating me :-/

  13. Thinker says

    This little poem was originally written as a comment to your post “Dance Naked at my Funeral”. I hope you don’t mind the repeat — it still is the best idea I have come up with…´

    I wore no clothes arriving here
    I’ll need none when I go –
    The moments in between most dear,
    Did I wear any? No.

    But when I leave, please don’t inter
    What might remain of me* –
    A sailing man, I’d much prefer
    A burial at sea.

    Then dance, my friends, without a trace
    Of clothes aboard the ship
    And feel my final fond embrace
    As you all skinny dip.

    *After medicine and science — in that order — have taken anything of interest.

  14. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    For a while I was hoping for the viking longboat cremation thing. But the city isn’t big on people torching boats in the reservoir, for some reason. Medical science can have me, I imagine my liver will be particularly interesting. With all the alcohol its soaked up, it may be usable as a new form of biofuel.

    Give my bits to whoever wants them. The only thing I care about is that my religious family members not be allowed to shoehorn a sermon into the memorial anywhere, like they always do. Hold the memorial in a good pub, some place with fine single-malts and Guinness on tap. And make sure “The Night That Paddy Murphy Died” gets played loud when everyone is good and sloshed.

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