Don't Cry Because It's Over, Smile Because It Happened...

Death is inevitable, and that's simply the way it is.  I've felt this way since childhood-- nearly as long as I can remember-- most likely because my parents allowed my siblings and I to watch nature documentaries and hold funerals for beloved pets when they passed on, teaching us, among other things, that death was just a part of the rightful cycle of life.  I can recall the horrified reactions my peers when, at around age thirteen, I announced that I already had my funeral all planned out.  I didn't mean for it to sound morbid-- death isn't morbid, really, if it is viewed in the right light-- but merely thought it to be a reasonable and foresightful thing to consider.  After all, we all die.  We might as well accept it and plan for it.

I suppose, from the perspectives of some, the funeral I have decided upon might make these thought seem even more strange, for I have no wish or intention of allowing a drab, black-clad affair to mark the ending of my physical life.  In fact, my Dream Funeral-- my, that really is an comical phrase, isn't it?-- can be basically summed up in one of my favorite quotes which, believe it or not, comes from the beloved children's author Dr. Seuss.  "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."  That is exactly what I want my funeral to be-- an opportunity to remember the good times, and to talk and laugh about everything that happened.

My background is a blend of several nationalities-- Irish, German, Jewish, Scottish and Cherokee-- but of all of those the Celtic blood is by far the strongest.  (I'm nearly half Irish, and another fifth Scottish.)  Being that as it is, it's really no wonder that I have always liked the idea of having something like an Irish wake.  Being myself, however, I have, of course, put my own spin on the idea.

It is my hope that many aspects of a traditional wake will be there, including vivacious Celtic music-- live or recorder-- and plenty of drink.  Food will also be served, naturally, as I was raised in the southern United States, and therefore believe that hungry guests are a mark of shame upon any hostess, even if she is a bit on the deceased side.  Being dead is no excuse for bad manners.  There will be one request made of guests: I hope that my friends, family, and other mourners will honor me by not wearing black or solemn colors.  I'd like everyone to dress in bright, cheerful hues, and spend their time celebrating my life rather than bemoaning my death.  It is only natural for a person to want to cheer their friends when they're sad, and I think this should be no different after death.  After all, if people I love are already feeling downcast, why would I want to make them more miserable by forcing them to sit in a quiet room, looking at everyone else's dark wardrobe and melancholy faces while listening to slow, sad music?  It would make absolutely no sense.

I understand that funerals are for the living, not for the dead, and are a way for people to bring closure to their loss.  For that reason, I don't wish to ask people not to cry, or feel moments of sadness, but I also don't want them to feel obligated to force themselves into a state of melancholy.  I don't want anyone feeling like a horrible, heartless person because a smile happens to grace his or her lips during the eulogy.  On the topic of eulogies, I don't want to there to be any of the typical nonsense.  I hope everyone can think of something more original and sincere than: "She was a good person, and while we miss her here, we know she's gone on to a better place."  It may be true, but you don't have to say it.  Let my eulogies be spoken by individuals, one to another, and let them begin with "I remember when" or "Did you hear about the time."  Don't arrange for any preconcocted speeches.  Rather, let someone only address the crowd if they feel the need to, and if they have something to say.  And for that matter, don't say nice things about me that aren't meant.  I'd rather have someone say I was an irritating, unholy terror than lie about how much they liked me.

So that's it.  I want my funeral to be a party where people can remember me-- hopefully fondly-- and be happy for the time that we had together.  If anyone reading this now should, by chance, be present at my funeral someday, just remember: bid me goodbye with a song, a laugh, and a lifted drink. 

And please, don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

WildMagic WildMagic
26-30, F
3 Responses Mar 14, 2010

WOW! Your story sounds like mines. I think the same about death. Yeah people think I'm morbid but I'm not. And I don't want to die either. But I think it's better to plan what will happen one day. Death is a part of life. So why not discuss it? I was thinking the other day I should write a will too. I've told my family what I want and don't want to happen when I die...but I think it's a great idea. I love that Dr. Seuss quote btw. "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."

It's one of my favorites. :) The quote, I mean, not dying... LOL!

LOL. Not particularly, but then I haven't received my schedule yet. :) I suppose I really ought to make out a living will, though, and maybe I should consider life insurance while I'm still young and healthy enough to get excellent rates. That way I can be sure that things are done right. At the same time, however, I want to focus on living while I have life to live. I suppose there's something to be said for being prepared, though.<br />
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It's good to hear about people celebrating and remembering life through videos, pictures and music... in fact I may have to add something of the sort to my own plans. I'm glad there are other people who feel the same way I do. When faced with an inevitable occurrence, the only choice we really have is how we meet it, and I think it's better to meet fate with a smile and a song than with a heavy stomach full of dread. It will happen when it happens, and rather than worrying about it we ought to live life while we have it. I don't particularly mean we should be utterly irresponsible, but rather we should take time to smell the roses, so to speak. I mean, the laundry, the project, and the dishes will still be there tomorrow, and even if you stress out doing them all as quickly as possible, new chores will instantly take their place. Make time to have a cup of coffee with a loved one, try a new experience, or call an old friend, before diving back into the endless sea of responsibility. Otherwise you're not living... just existing. I accept the fact that I'll die one day, and I'm not really afraid of it, though I expect I'll feel the same odd, jittery nervousness of a child the night before they begin attending a new school. Anything unknown is like that. I am afraid, however, of lying on my deathbed, looking back over my life, and realizing that I never really lived. That's something I can't-- and won't-- accept.<br />
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Wow, I really didn't mean to go off on a tangent. I'm afraid loquaciousness is just a part of who I am. LOL. Oh, well... Another one of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes is "Be who you are and say what you mean. Those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." :)

Sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders. I agree whole heartedly. A lot of people try to avoid thinking about the enevitable. I've been to a few recent funerals that were a little like what you were talking (video and scrapbooks) which were a tribute to the person's life. That's what I think a funeral should be....a celebration of that person's life.......By the way, are you planning on dying soon?