Have you ever sat down and thought about your own funeral?
I know some of you just read that and thought, “Yep, Grif‘s jumping into the ‘cry for help’ pool head first.”
Before you start recommending therapists, preachers or an intervention, I’m good, really.
I’m not going to lie, I have frequently thought of my funeral, not in some strange push to exacerbate its arrival but to seriously consider how you want your friends and family to celebrate your passing through the veil.
And in all honesty I’ve narrowed it down to a couple of different options. There’s going to be an Irish wake where everyone toasts my memory and pinning for me to come back. That’s the night of my death. Now for the funeral part I’m thinking either a celebratory ancient Greek style funeral pyre on the shores of Orange Beach or a Viking-style sendoff in a Bass Trakker surrounded by fireworks on Lake Martin with an archer positioned on the Kowaliga Bridge sending a flaming arrow into the boat giving me the opportunity to go out with one last great big bang.
Somewhere a funeral director just read that and spit out his morning coffee and began listing the litany of ways neither of those options are feasible, safe or legal.
Seriously, though, as the ’Rona has proven in these past months, we are not immortal — far from it actually. I come to this realization as I’m sitting here going through some things from Grandad’s house and how unique his funeral and many other funerals are having to be conducted under coronavirus rules and regulations.
Now I have firmly believed for years visitations and funerals are more for the living than the dead, but 10 people at a visitation and funeral separated isn’t really a great representation of the actual person’s life.
And that’s not a knock against the organizers — they did a fantastic job working with the limitations allowed by COVID-19.
I’m looking for some kind of insightful quote to put here but can’t really find one, so I’ll just freestyle one: A life is measured by how they are celebrated in the days following their death. Oh and here’s another one, nothing brings people together like food and funerals.
Aside from Grandad’s, I’ve been to a catalogue full of funerals, two of which were really impactful in my life.
In high school, my other grand Junior Griffin walked off this earth to lead Southern Gospel Singings along the streets of gold. He was a giant of a man and I’ll write more about him later on, but his funeral … man.
I knew he knew every God and everybody. On the day of his homegoing party I don’t think Comer Church could hold another soul as that was the first time in my life I’d seen that church packed from floor to ceiling. His life was celebrated in a way when the family entered the church, they were greeted by people standing shoulder to shoulder from all walks of life gathered to celebrate the life of a guy who worked at a feed store, building supply and called TurtleNeck U.S.A. his home.
In the years following after I went to Troy as a freshman I lost my best friend Chelsea. Now she was a fun-loving 22-year-old, chainsmoking, screwdriver drinking soul who was larger than life and would field dress around 452.
Her funeral was held at a small AME church in Greenville. The church was built to hold 75 and on the day she died there were around three times that there to celebrate her life.
All of these funerals were great celebrations of life — lives lived to the fullest.
Now back to my demise. Funeral Pyre is one option. A Viking sendoff is another.
I’m also not opposed to having my ashes shot out of a cannon ala Hunter S. Thompson or being attached to a weather balloon and having them scattered all over parts of the state as it drifts up into the atmosphere. Go big or go home.
That funeral director might have just had a stroke.
So Cousins, I’m going to leave you with this: How do you want to be celebrated when you shed this mortal coil and spring forth to the Great Bye and Bye?
It’s that simple.