How ready are we to face death? Although inevitable, we have difficulty talking about our thoughts with others. What do we want our family and friends to know about our wishes associated with disposition of our body? Do we want a traditional funeral? Would we prefer a home funeral, burial in a green cemetery, burial on our own property, cremation, donation of organs or donation of our body for scientific purposes? What kind of memorial service or celebration would we like? Our Final Choices Committee plans to investigate options and bring the conversation to the congregation, making its findings available for all.
A workshop by Eva Thompson of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Maine was presented in the spring of 2010. She brought her cardboard coffin, which she has decorated with her family tree. Chuck Lakin of Last Things has made a metal free pine box which can also be used as a coffin.
Last year I received a diagnosis of a blocked artery in my heart, and surgery was recommended. For considerations that were, and are still, important to me, I declined the treatment. It was explained that a heart attack could happen at any time. In order to confront the possibilities remaining, I met with a trusted Hospice counselor. There followed the implementation of Do Not Resuscitate directions, the purchase of a green burial site, arrangements with a local funeral director, a conversation with my attorney. Now I carry the DNR direction on a bracelet and a laminated orange form in my purse. There is a DNR form over my bed and on the refrigerator, along with the name and number of the person who will see that my cats are cared for. I’ve told my friends of my wishes, and asked that if they’re with me when an attack occurs, that they emphasize to the emergency service people who may appear that my wishes are conveyed on the bracelet and form that I carry.
I’ve made these arrangements perfectly aware that I may live for a long time yet, and attend many funerals before my own comes due. But this time since the diagnosis has given me an opportunity to simultaneously treat my life as the precious gift it is, and to recognize what I may choose to greet death --- my last guest --- with courtesy and curiosity.
Minty is seen in the photos checking out her "final resting place" at Cedar Brook Green Cemetery in Limington.