Rules and Requests For My Funeral

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I offered some music this weekend at a memorial service for someone whom I didn’t know, but it got me thinking about my own funeral. That might sound kind of morbid, but only if death really bothers you. Losing someone is sad, but death is only scary if you’ve been conditioned to worry about the afterlife.

For the record, I have no expectation (and certainly no intention) of dying anytime soon.

So, I thought I’d write some things down now, at age 25, in regards to my funeral. I could, in fact, die tomorrow, which would make this document incredibly valuable. If I change my mind down the road, I’ll write a “Rules and Requests For My Funeral 2.0.” No big whoop. But just in case…

Dear friends, family, and loved ones,

If you’re reading this, you read my blog (thanks!) or I’ve died and someone thought to dig this post up out of my blog archive. I’m really sorry to hear about my death; obviously, I would have tried to avoid it if I could have.  But, we all die someday, and my day arrived. I hope you are coping well.

For the record, if I’m dead, I’m really gone. I know this reads like it’s from “beyond the grave,” but I’m writing it back in 2010. At this point, Zack Ford has totally ended. I haven’t “moved on,” I’m not “in a better place,” I’m not connecting with other lost loved ones, I’m not reincarnating, I’m not still with you “in spirit,” and I’m not looking down on you. The coroner’s word is final. It’s over. Kaput. THE END.

And even if by the time I’ve died we’ve developed Caprica-like avatars, I highly doubt that my avatar is exactly me. If the real me is dead, then the real me is dead. I don’t know what year it is when I’ve died, but if people still aren’t watching Caprica, you should go back and hulu it, if you even still have hulu. Good show.

Now, as you plan my funeral, you’ll probably be thinking about “what Zack would’ve wanted.” This is both a good thing and a bad thing. See, I’m dead. I’m not going to be there for the funeral. And the funeral isn’t for me. It’s for you! So, to a certain extent, however you choose to memorialize me really ought to help you feel good about letting go and remembering me in the way that best helps you continue with your life.

It is possible though that in seeking your own solace, you disrespect me and what I stood for. I’m not around to do anything about it, so, frankly, you can do whatever it is you want to do. But if you knew me, you knew one of my biggest pet peeves is when people selfishly justify things for themselves. So, let me help you keep your conscience in check.

I shouldn’t have to say this, but unfortunately I have to say this: Don’t pray for me. Seriously, don’t. This might be the hardest thing I ask of you and I understand that. But don’t pray that I’m in heaven or that I watch over you or that God watches over my soul or any of that. And certainly don’t pray for others on my behalf. Talk about disgracing my life! There are no gods, and I think you know that I’d be really pissed if you were using your grief for my death as another self-conditioning mechanism to reinforce your delusions of a higher power. (If you do believe in God/prayer and you violate this wish of mine, then I hope I appear to you in your prayer and wag my finger at you for being so selfish and insecure.)

I really do like the idea of living on in hearts and memories. Go with that. Remember me, but do not try to hold onto me. If there’s anything I left behind that can help others, make sure they see it, but don’t try to keep me going. Cherish what you will from my life and move on.

So, no talk of an afterlife and no prayer. Got it? Oh, and if I died unexpectedly, like in a car crash or something, do not put one of those gawdy crosses up on the spot. A cross would have zero significance for my life (and would offend it quite a bit), nor would the spot where I died. Ugh! Also, donate my organs, and then donate my body to science, cremate it, or bury it without embalming it so I become a nice feast. It was hard enough to be sustainable in life; I don’t want to be unsustainable in death, too. (As an aside, at the time of this writing, I’m very sad that SunChips stopped making their decompostable bags because they were too loud. Christ, Americans are whiny. Do you still have SunChips in the future? I hope so. They’re delicious! Garden Salsa are my favorite.)

I think that covers my most important wishes. If you’re curious about what kind of memorial celebration I’d like, I’ve shared some thoughts below. It’s a lot to ask, but I think it would be the best way to celebrate my life. Is it feasible? I don’t know, but I’m dead, so what do I care? You going to tell a dead guy that he thinks too much of himself? I don’t think so. Well, maybe. Besides, I already said I want this to be what works best for you; so you can ignore everything else I put forth for all I care. (I’m dead, so I don’t care at all.)

Anyways, I think it should be an all-day affair and all of my Facebook friends should be invited, plus anyone else. Why all my Facebook friends? Well, because I was diligent enough about making sure that no one was my FB friend if they didn’t make at least the slightest impact on my life, so they should all get the chance to be a part of remembering me. It’s not like they’re all going to come, and I don’t expect it of anyone. But it’d be really cool if they did, because I know a lot of very different and interesting people and you all might learn some interesting things from each other. Everyone should wear name tags.

Why all-day? Well, because during the day, I want people to do a service project! It’s not a requirement for people who want to participate in just the evening’s events, but it should certainly be an available option for those interested. Just find some great way that everybody interested can take a little time to make other people’s lives better. (Please keep the cause secular.)

Now, I wasn’t some grand humanitarian, and I don’t want you to think I have this inflated sense of my impact on the world. I just figure, if I’m going to give people suggestions on how best to memorialize me, I ought not to be totally selfish about it. Plus, I know that there have been a ton of very loving and giving people in my life and I don’t want grieving for me to get in the way of the potential you all still have to do good works.

You know how you feel when you finish a good book (if you still have books)? It’s like… you’re kind of bummed that the book is over, but it’s kind of exhilarating because it was this complete story. It’s over now, but it was complete, and it was great, and you want to take the impact that the book had and incorporate it into your life and into your thinking. That’s kind of how I think about life. Death isn’t tragic (except when it is); it’s just the closing of a book. A memorial should be a celebration of what was great about the life and what can be taken away from it, not a time to mourn the end of it.

So what I would ideally envision then for the evening is some sort of epic roast/concert, with plenty of alcohol for those who fancy it. It should be very Ford Fest-like. In fact, why not do it in Ford Hall? That’d be fitting. People should be set up to have a good time and maybe they’ll even want to hook up with a new friend afterward, because, why not?

Why a roast? Well, enough people have told me in life that I’m going to Hell, so I might as well burn at my funeral! Besides, I know that I’m a quirky enough character that people could get some good laughs. I’m sure MG, if he’s still around, would make a great host, and I’m sure there are plenty of folks who would jump at the opportunity to tell some very funny stories about me. At least, I hope they would. (If I’m not currently a very interesting person, could some of the people reading this in the present give me a head’s up so I can make some necessary adjustments? Thanks.)

And it should be a concert too. I’m not going to tell you what songs to pick, because, come on, it’s more fun if you have artistic license! But music was super important in my life, so here are some general suggestions if you’re looking for ideas:

I would actually like a big fabulous gospel choir to be utilized for at least one song, but of course I’d prefer if the song’s lyrics were not too gospelly… like, at all. In fact, despite my normal anal retentiveness, feel free to rewrite any lyrics for humorous effect. But I want the crowd on its feet and arm-in-arm having a good ol’ time, you know? At least one sing-along would be great, too, as well as some dancing. There should be some sexy musical theatre with belty voices blending some fierce harmonies in a hugely over-produced (but low-budget) fashion. Any classical music should be comedically over-dramatic or silly and fun. Special musical guests ought to include a gay men’s chorus and/or Ithacappella, a winner of Molson Canadian Idol (LD), brass players from the 518 (RP and JH), and of course my siblings of Mu Phi Epsilon.

Given the amount of work some people would have to put in to make that kind of event happen, you should totally take an offering and/or make the whole event a fundraiser for a good secular cause. Why miss out on another great opportunity to help others? (Please do not try to actually profit from my death. Covering the costs to humor my over-inflated sense of importance is fine, but make sure the rest goes to charity.)

At the end of the three-and-a-half hour extravaganza, people should stay up late talking (and not necessarily about me) and then go out for (probably a very late) brunch the next morning. The more time for old friends and complete strangers to learn from each other, the better. Don’t forget those name tags.

Then, get on with your lives, please.

Remember: No afterlife, no prayer, no Bible readings, and no burial, but plenty of drinking and debauchery is fine. And just do good works. I wasn’t a saint, but neither are you.

Carry on (but with my love in your hearts),

Zack

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