I've been thinking about death lately, for a number of reasons, and funerals in particular, partly because I'm morbid, partly because of NYCyclist's lovely piece on grieving without god, partly because "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" is the most popular funeral song in Britain.
I haven't had to go to many funerals, thankfully, and mostly those of grandparents whose deaths were sad but not surprising. The best (where "best" is relative) death-related event was my grandmother's "wake." Ma was buried with her family in Massachusetts, not in California where she had lived for 30 years, so there was no funeral, but we had a get together that was more party than reception. We invited everyone who loved her, ate all the foods that she regularly made for us, and drank a lot, and talked about how much we would miss her and why. It was a celebration.
Funerals are for the living, but I like to imagine my own. (I told you I'm morbid.) I don't plan to get married or have children, so, unless I get it together and become a famous poet, there are not too many occasions on which I can expect to be the center of attention. I wonder who will be there. I wonder who I will be when I die. I wonder how my death will come about. I want people to miss me terribly, obviously, but I hate to think of them being miserable. What music would make them feel better or okay? What words would help them go on? I can't think of anything appropriate just now, only the sad break-up songs I play for myself now, by guys like Beck or Elliott Smith or the Mountain Goats. "Peace Piece" by Bill Evans might do. Or maybe someone could read a poem, like the Scottish guy does for his lost love in Four Weddings and a Funeral. I wonder who will love me when I'm gone, who will ache and cry for me. How will they want to say goodbye?
How will they say goodbye to you?