When I Die: Two Services

June 11, 2012 at 1:30 pm (Death and Dying, Spiritual, When I Die) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

As I have been involved in the planning of two separate services for my friend’s death, it made me think about what I would want. My friend actually got three; one for just his family and close family friends, one that was open to anyone who wanted to come, and one for his religious contemporaries.

Since Ninja and I had a “Renaissance wedding” in order to hide the more pagan elements from my in-laws, I get why there might need to be a few different celebrations of life.

I am making it clear that I want 2, and only 2, services; I want a proper funeral, and I want a celebration of life. Anyone and everyone can self-select as to which ones they attend, but they should go to either being ready to face whatever they may learn about me from those who attend.

The funeral will be a somber affair. Its primary goal is to give people who are grieving my death a place to gather and support each other. It will happen shortly after I die, basically as soon as my ashes are obtained. I’d like it to be in a sacred indoor location, but no appropriate ones spring to mind. Someone’s house would also do. It should be officiated by Hugh Eckert, Wintersong Tashlin, and Raven Kaldera. I know they’ve never worked together before, but I’m sure they’ll come up with something appropriate. It should be in line with my religious and spiritual beliefs – don’t make my in-laws smother on the Paganism, but don’t hide it either.  (I figure at that point I’m already dead and therefore what does it matter anymore?) It should be family appropriate and solemn. Ninja’s religious views should also be taken into consideration, and if he feels strongly that he would like a rabbi involved, I say do it. After all, the funeral is more for the living than the dead. I’m sure we can find a rabbi who can work with Hugh, Winter, and Raven.

The second service should be a celebration of life. This will be more for those who wish to memorialize me through story and song, who want to recount the crazy adventures I’ve had through this life. There should be alcohol in horns being passed around and bawdy stories of how great I was in bed told. No holes barred. People should be warned that if they’re uncomfortable with any aspect of my life – my trans identity, my Invisible People, my kinky sex life, my poly partners – they should stay the fuck home. This is me in full technicolor, for all to celebrate and bask in. I want the movies I made playing in the background. I want Raven to sing Skullcrusher Mountain. Nick Nigro has to be there, and has to tell at least one crazy Del story. There should be a division of my sex/kink toys – maybe even a raffle to donate to a charity I would have liked. I’d want this to be in an outdoor location where day turns to night and frivolity turns into drunken, tired people surrounding a campfire pouring libations to me into the fire. If it’s appropriate, I’d love it if it were at either Cauldron Farm or at Ramblewood. This celebration should be officiated by Elizabeth Vongsivith (whose last name I can never spell right), and she should wear her Fools dress. She knows which one. Also starring Rebecca Proch, for which the only funeral I can imagine her officiating. She will decorate it to the nines!

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Advanced Directives

February 8, 2012 at 4:24 pm (Death and Dying, When I Die) (, , , , , , , , )

A lot of people ask me about my advanced directives. These are legal documents that allow for someone else to make medical decisions for you in a situation where you are no longer capable of making them for yourself.

To state it publicly here so everyone knows, my medical proxy is Sara Laughlin, who I refer to as “Blue”. She is my sister. Ninja has her contact information, and I’m assuming if I’m ever in a situation where I can’t make my own medical decisions, Ninja will be around.

Ninja (whose real name is Mike Schlosser), is my secondary medical proxy. That means that if Blue is not available to decide and it needs to be made sooner than she can be reached, he is authorized to do so.

People ask me why my spouse is not my primary medical proxy. The short and true answer is, he chose not to. He feels that in a moment of grief, faced with losing his spouse, he would not be able to carry out my wishes as I have outlined them. My sister is sort of the “family medical proxy”, as she holds my mother’s proxy as well. She’s a rational, even-keeled person who knows me pretty damn well and knows what I would and would not want.

I am going to fill out new forms in the next few weeks. I am going to file them in the box with all my medical information. Currently, that box lives underneath the seat of my piano. If for any reason there is an emergency, that box should have all of my pertinent information in it, and all my legal paperwork including my will, my directives, and that sort of thing.

Whether or not you suffer from chronic illness, or think you’re going to die soon, it’s important for you to have Advanced Directives if you want any say in what happens to you and your stuff if you lose the ability to consent. If you go to this website:AARP’s Advanced Directives Site, it gives you a state by state choice, so you can download the paperwork necessary to create your documents, including what steps you need to take to make it legal. (I need to figure out who can witness mine who has no interest in having anything of mine after I die, because a witness can’t have any financial interest in your estate. So not one lunchbox, not one key. Any takers?)

Furthermore, if you have other nifty things like a checking account or stocks or a kickass vinyl collection, this Wall Street Journal article outlines other documents you should have in place so that you, and not the state (or your estranged family’s lawyers) dictates who gets what and how things are handled. This includes funeral preparations; for those of you Pagans who don’t want your family to mourn you in a Church, this may be important to you. (But keep in mind that funerals are more about comforting the living than uplifting the dead, so if the majority of the people you know are of a certain faith, it might be useful to let them mourn you in a familiar way. Luckily, most of my close friends and family are Pagan…)

Even though this is not a “When I Die” post, I’m going to categorize it as such anyway, since if someone is poking through my blog looking for my last wishes, knowing where my important documents are kept should be among those things. And yes, you too should tell more than just your spouse/parents/roommates where your medical proxy information is; you never know who will be alive and functional to help in times of crisis.

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When I Die: Get A Little Piece of Me

February 2, 2012 at 6:29 pm (When I Die) (, , )

Those who are in charge of my medical proxy and other sorts of post-Del arrangements already know this, but I figured it would be a good installment to the When I Die series.

I, like most Pagans I talk to, would prefer to have my body burned in a Pyre, but that’s pretty illegal in the US. The best legal option is cremation, and as someone who holds on to 2 sets of ashes (my late familiar’s, and a piece of my father’s), I know how healing and comforting it can be to have a physical reminder of the person who has passed on.

Because of Ninja’s Jewish beliefs, he can’t bring a dead body into the house. So Blue (which is not her real name), my sister, will be in charge of my ashes. She will retrieve them in an open container, and bring them to whatever celebration is planned for my passing. Those who wish to have a small share of my ashes may take some at that time, as long as they bring a container to put them in. (A ziplock bag is just as good as a fancy box or urn.) For the next six months, people can contact her to obtain a small amount of my ashes until there isn’t any more to give away.

What you do with those ashes is your business. I’d love it if someone went to Riverfront Park in Beacon, NY and put them in the Hudson River by climbing on the bluff of rocks that lead away from the park and into the river, if the bluff still exists. It would be cool if (after obtaining Harry’s permission) if some could be added to the center of the labyrinth at Ramblewood, or maybe planted alongside some sort of plant around Cabin 1. I’d like some to end up at Cauldron Farm, either in Raven’s care or somewhere on the property that would be appropriate. If Emily felt so moved, she is invited to take some to the Gazebo at Camp Quinpet (or the swing at Epworth, if it’s still there) and sprinkle some there.

But mostly, I assume I’ll be on various people’s altars. I am totally okay if you end up putting them into the ink for a tattoo. (Send Ninja pictures if you do that.) I’m sure you guys have some interesting ideas as to what to do with them to keep me a part of your life after I am corporeally absent.

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When I Die: Obituaries

January 9, 2012 at 3:01 am (When I Die) (, )

I’ve decided to start a new category of posts on Dying for a Diagnosis, called “When I die”. I do not want people to get upset or offended at them; although what I plan to say is serious, I do not mean for it to be solemn. I want to be remembered in a multitude of joyous ways, and plan to give y’all some ideas on how to celebrate my passing in these posts. Please don’t think I’m wallowing in self-destruction over here; I’m really not.

Anyway, onto “When I Die: Obituaries”

When I die, I would like each and every one of you to submit an obituary to your local paper, or on your blog, or in some other public forum. I would like these obituaries to be blatantly false, creatively strange retellings of my life and it’s details. Choose a small, underserved charity that reaches out to some strange, unrelated population and say “In lieu of flowers, Del requested that you donate to the Little People’s Soccer Team of Sheboygan, MI.” These should be real charities in need of actual donations.

In these obituaries, you should detail the way we know each other, but again, it should be blatantly false. Extra points if it’s so unbelievable that even strangers would balk, like, “Del and I served together during WWI in Mongolia, flying rescue missions.”  Invent whatever family I’m survived by, but it should include you in some fashion. Also, feel free to list the cause of death as some wacky disease no one’ ever heard of, or say it was a combination of lupus and porphryria, with complications due to neoplastic syndrome (because I am a House, MD fan.)

When these are published, they should be collected by someone (I’ll take a volunteer in the comments, who is willing to share an email address with the masses) and given to Ninja to amuse himself when he gets sad.

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