Fans of Mary Roach’s book Stiff and author Caitlin Doughty will enjoy Kathy Benjamin‘s It’s Your Funeral! (Quirk Books), but this book is really for everyone. Because — sorry to break it to you — everyone is going to die, and this book explains exactly how to prepare for that.
If that sounds sad and depressing, I assure you, it is not. Benjamin makes it entertaining, educational and even funny at times. Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of the rituals of death and dying, including history and traditions, with examples of what others have done. Finally, the book provides space for the reader to make notes on how they want to handle their own demise — or rather, the part they still have some control over.
I was happy to see my own preference of having my ashes pressed into a coral reef represented as one of the choices for what can be done with your body after death. If I had not already had an idea of what I wanted to happen to me after death, there were a myriad of other options worth considering. And if you wisely purchase this book far in advance of when you need it, you will have plenty of time to think about everything. To plan your last party, ever.
THE PARTY OF A LIFETIME? ABOUT A LIFETIME? CELEBRATING A LIFETIME?
Speaking of parties, Benjamin brought up so many things I’ve never thought about: People you want to be invited to your funeral that your family might not know how to contact, or people you most definitely don’t want to attend, for whatever reason.
You can write your own obituary, plan and pay for everything years in advance so it’s perfect, because funerals are really freaking expensive. And, if you didn’t know this, funeral homes require you to pay in full at the time of the funeral — I myself have learned that the hard way. You can choose less expensive choices far in advance. You can start a funeral savings account. This book helps with all those options.
And there are the more prosaic things to consider — what do you want to wear when you go into forever? What kind of container do you want to be in? What do you want to take with you? Do you want your phone? A stuffed animal? Your pet’s ashes? So many questions, and spaces to answer them all.
Perhaps after you read the book, you want none of any of it, and that’s fine too — It’s Your Funeral! explains many ways to donate your body to science and how it might be used. Body farms seem appealing and interesting, for instance, if you don’t want your body to stick around. At the other extreme, plastination has its appeal, as your corpse will last forever.
The book also suggests places to find poems and readings for your funeral service and I was happy to see that one I had chosen as a reading at my mother’s funeral was listed there. Who actually does those readings can be important, and those suggestions aren’t neglected. It’s Your Funeral! doesn’t neglect to suggest you fill out a will, either. Because if you “can’t take it with you,” you would be wise to decide just where it should go.
All in all, It’s Your Funeral! is a complete, non-depressing reference to end-of-life planning that every household should have and every person should read.