Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Death and Atheism

I held out on posting this as I didn't want to be a crybaby, and it wasn't until now that I really felt like posting. Last week, my last grandparent died, and the funeral was on Monday.

Regular readers likely know my opinions on religion. I don't care what you believe, just don't push it on me, and I'll try my best to reciprocate. Since, however, we have a few Atheists here I thought I'd just make mention...

This was my first funeral since being a real, self-aware Atheist. I have been atheist all my life. I tolerated religious necessities as, well, social necessities. I was married Catholic as there was no sense in alienating the in-laws. I did lie to the Church and say I was confirmed. There was no harm in it.

This funeral, however, has changed my thinking. We sat through all these prayers, and speeches on how great jesus was (is?) and how lucky Grandma was to be with him in the "mansions of the saints." My extended family is very religious. Some devout Catholics, some are part of this bizarre neo-Protestant cult. My immediate family is not religious, but toy with their belief. I was probably a stand out at the services. I do not bow, I do not kneel, I do not pray. I was not there for this fictitious Nazarene. I was there for my Grandma.

So, I have been thinking about my own funeral. I am not convinced at times that I can die. I have had three near death experiences and am still here. I think I will have a funeral while still alive, and aware enough to enjoy it. People standing around talking about how much they loved someone without a drink in their hand, with the guest of honor being little more than a prop seems bizarre in the extreme. Also, I hate seeing people at their worst; just out of bed, sick, whatever; they do not want to be seen in a sorry state, and what state is sorrier than death?

So, for my funeral:
  1. Open bar and a coffin-sized beer cooler. Beer to include my beloved Molson Canadian and Molson XXX, Fat Tire, Dogfish Head, Asahi Select, Kirin Ichiban. There will be no Bud Light or other such beer at my funeral. No well brand liquor either.
  2. Strippers. Male and female. Everyone (of age) is to be present for both. If I sit quietly through your prayers, you can watch some asses shake.
  3. No toasts or speeches if you have had less than four drinks. I want the truth, good or bad.
  4. I am donating my body to science, so there will be no procession or grave, coffin or urn. However, since it is customary to have a song, I want it to be either: Born to Run, Thunder Road, I Wish I Was in New Orleans, or Folsom Prison Blues... Probably played by a female singer/pianist, as women get few such breaks and have better emotive qualities.
  5. Pinball machines. I love pinball.
Well, that is all for now. In case I get hit by another car, I thought I should make some of my wishes known. You are all invited. It will probably be when I'm 69, just to add a little dirtiness. Keep the 2040s open.


Tenebrous Kate said...

I am so sorry for your loss, Darius. The death of a loved one is sad no matter what one's religious affiliation might be, and I admire the fact that you're taking this life-changing event with a combination of affection and humor.

I'm also an Atheist, and I've been tasked with similar funeral prep for a couple of my Atheist pals. The arrangements look pretty similar to yours, except I also have one person who's asked me to go drinking with Klingons after his death. I better start attending more sci-fi conventions to make the right connections!

Jm Diaz said...

First off, I'd like to express my condolences. I have lost one parent, and three grandparents. It sucks, and I totally understand your position and interaction (or lack there of) with religion. I am am the same. I married a nice christian girl. I'm the Atheist.

Also, I'm totally copying your funeral list for my own. I'd have to include New Castle though.

Chad Thorson said...

Hey man, I'm really sorry. It's a hard thing to deal with.

Dr. Monkey said...

I'll totally be at your funeral, if I know when it's going on that is.

Bubbashelby said...

Sorry for your loss. I too feel funerals, regardless of religious affiliations, are too damn somber at best.

You know how you just feel like having a huge laugh at funerals? I mean, the repression just boils inside and you want to giggle, not out of disrespect, but it's just a natural human reaction. Well, at my funeral I want people to be laughing their asses off remembering all the good times and the humor in our lives. Knowing my family, that's the way it'll be and that's what a funeral should be in my opinion.

Don't cry for me, Argentina!

Darius Whiteplume said...

@TK - Klingons! bIjatlh 'e' yImev! I have never drank with Klingons, but imagine it is a good time!

@Diaz - New Castle is more than welcome. Christian girls love us Atheists ;-)

@AK - I appreciate it.

@Dr Monkey - I didn't want to give away my age, but lets just say 2038 is the most likely year ;-)

@Bubba Shelby - I do tend to laugh, but my Dad's brother felt it necessary to fill me with spite. For him. That is another story though.

On a positive note, I can now check Cleveland off of places I want to go. Just kidding. The airport isn't bad, though I was only in it for 20 minutes, and at a full run to boot. :-D

Wings1295 said...

Darius - My condolences on the loss of your grandparent. And my kudos on the list for your funeral. I am gonna steal and tweak it a bit for myself, as well. Happy Holidays, man!

cerebus660 said...

Sorry to hear about your loss, Darius. I know it can be especially hard at this time of year when everyone else seems to be partying. I lost my Dad and Nan in the space of two weeks over one Christmas. As you can imagine it was a nightmare.
Anyway, I think you're being amazingly brave about it all. Your funeral plans are awesome: you've got to go with Thunder Road, mate!

TST said...

bloody brilliant post Darius, way to flip an otherwise grievous moment into a pro-active thinking. I second the pinball machines, that'd be rad! Hell I'd probably travel just to play a couple rounds.

Lorelei said...

I'm sorry about your Grandma. Losing grandparents is hard because who is going to spoil us now? At my husband's Catholic grandmother's funeral service we sat in the second row and it took everything we had to sit still through all those hail mary's. Mostly we giggled and tried to keep our butts from falling asleep on those chairs.

Darius Whiteplume said...

@Wings - Thanks, and modify to your heart's content!

@cerebus660 - I think it will be Thunder Road.

@Lorelei - Grandparents are hard to lose. She was my last, and now it is like I am officially not a kid anymore.

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