Funerals are not like movies, in that you’re not supposed to rate them out of five stars once you’re done watching. There is no such thing as a funeral critic, there’s no place for you to go evaluate one online, because what could be more degrading to the deceased’s memory than giving their funeral a bad review? This being said, I think we’d all agree that some are better than others, right? I know this all too well, because not too long ago I attended a funeral for my great-aunt that made me wish I was watching a double feature of Gigli followed by Glitter.
It was terrible. The priest had clearly not interviewed the immediate family very well before giving his speech, made apparent by the fact that he called her by the wrong name for most of it. As if this wasn’t bad enough, he also went on at length about her “legacy” — how great-aunt Mel took such good care of her three cats, how they would miss her so much, and how her dedication to her pets spoke to her wonderful character. He would NOT shut up about how much she loved those cats, you guys. No mention of a career, of her children, of anything other than the goddamn felines. I walked out of that church resolving then and there that my funeral would not go down like that, not if it killed me (har, har). So here it is, published on the internet for everyone to see and hopefully obey; the explicit instructions for my own funeral:
So, I have died. Someone has already tied a brick to my laptop and sunk it to the bottom of the ocean, so that I am not humiliated in death as I so often was in life (I’m actually not worried about anyone stumbling across a folder of fetish pornography, so much as I am worried about someone finding a folder called “Xena Warrior Princess gifs,” which is, sadly, not code for anything).
I guess the first thing to deal with is where my body will spend eternity, or at least until Earth is engulfed by a black hole. I would like to be buried, not cremated, the reason for this being partly because the mere thought of burning flesh makes me nauseous, but mostly because I don’t want anyone making any “flaming homosexual” jokes as I’m being set ablaze. That shit is only funny when I say it.
While I would like to be put in the ground, please do not spend a lot of money on my casket, but instead spend a fortune on the Armani suit I’ll be buried in. Whether my soul is greeting Peter at the Pearly Gates or doing the Satanic Samba in Hell, I’d like it to arrive in style. Actually, let’s be real: make sure the suit is a lightweight material, something that breathes, because I’m pretty sure it’s going to be hot where I’m going.
Now, we need to ensure I get a better priest than the one my aunt Mel got for her funeral. Maybe you should audition ten of them, and then ultimately pick the most attractive one, because you feel like that’s what I would do. No, you know what? No priest actually. While I wish to live a good life, I have never aspired to live a holy life, and I think a priest’s presence might give the wrong impression.
While I mostly avoided church, I did attend a few raves in my lifetime and will never forget when a girl wearing a tie-dye crop-top randomly gave me a hug and a beaded bracelet with the letters P-L-U-R on it. She showed me the secret raver handshake and slipped the bracelet onto my wrist, explaining that it stood for peace, love, unity, and respect, because “that’s what raves and house music are all about.” I love that, and even though that girl was higher than Felix Baumgartner jumping from space, I’d like to think that there was a lot more PLUR and random hugging in my life than there was Jesus. So instead of a priest, I’d like a DJ to officiate my funeral, preferably a Dutch one, like Tiesto or someone else good. Use of club drugs will be optional, but should be provided for those left especially bereft by my passing.
I suppose I could continue, could tell you that Panda Express should cater the wake, could go into the kinds of flower arrangements I’d approve of and how to handle any awkward speeches from drunk family members — but that would really be more for your comfort than it would be of any importance to me. I guess that’s really what funerals are all about though, aren’t they, appeasing the living more than the dead? We hold these ceremonies for people we loved and we talk about “what they would have wanted,” but at the end of the day it’s our own peace of mind we’re looking for. Death is so heinously incomprehensible that we living folk go to elaborate lengths to give our dearly departed a proper send-off, but I can’t help but feel we’d skip it all if only we knew what came next. After all, the person in the casket never finds out if their funeral doesn’t go well; they don’t hear the priest mispronounce their name, they don’t sit through the embarrassing cat talk — they’re way too busy being dead, whatever you imagine that entails (sweet oblivion, golfing with God, a new life as a llama at a petting zoo?)
It is this line of thinking which leads me to the final instruction for my funeral: no matter what happens, no matter how badly it goes, don’t sweat it too much. Life is so full of serious, so full of tribulation; death seems like a great opportunity to have a no-pressure gathering of friends and family. I won’t be around to judge how well it went, so just focus on having fun and being alive instead.