May 16, 2012 Edition

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There had better be cake

Talking about death is one of the most difficult topics for most of us. Yet it is a conversation that is needed. Death eventually comes to each of us and there are no exceptions. It is easier for our loved ones to handle all the decisions that need to be made if our ducks are in a row.

When my mother died in 2009, I was blindsided. The only thing I knew was that she did not want to be looked at after she had died.

Her sentiment was, "Don't let people parade past me and talk about how good I look or how natural I look, because you know they are thinking, 'for a dead woman'."

I honored her one and only request and there was no body lying there for people to make comments about. Instead I brought in a slide show of her life and we all shared memories of her through the years.

Making your own end of life plans is difficult. Not only is it difficult, it is downright depressing. My husband and I recently had one of those talks about what to do if the other one goes first. I'm not saying it is the most enjoyable conversation we have ever had, but it was somewhat of a surprise to me how much we see eye-to-eye on our wishes.

Some folks want to do everything ahead of time from choosing a casket to deciding what they will wear and where they will be buried. They have chosen what music they want to be played and who will speak at their service.

I am a person who thinks in terms of celebrating life rather than mourning death. When I go, I hope my family gathers together for a huge party, not a funeral.

I love the thought of a wake, and no I'm not talking about watching the corpse through the night kind of wake, and probably not an Irish wake complete with song and dance after an appropriate amount of lubricating whiskey. Though, maybe, a little song and dance would be okay.

I have no place that is particularly dear to me so a particular piece of ground is not high on my list of wishes, and believe me I've heard my family sing plenty of times and a rousing chorus of "my mother's bigger than a Cadillac" will not be on my list.

I am not ready for my last hurrah by any means. I hope to have many more years to make sure that my kids know how I feel about the whole process. They can ask me about what they want to know and I might have an answer. I do not plan to make a "to do list" for what is to happen when I die, nor do I intend to plan my own funeral service. Funerals and memorial services are for the living, and I am pretty well convinced they do not matter to the dead.

My family just needs to know that I expect comedy and not tragedy, more laughter than tears and there had better be cake.

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