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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Random Experiences With Death

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Grandpa (top left) with his B-24 crew in front of Teepee Time Gal

I recently experienced death for the first time. Not mine, obviously, but my grandfather's. He was aged, and sick, so it wasn't unexpected. But I hurt inside. I was slower to smile and not as playful with the kids. It was my kids' first time experiencing death, too. Their reactions were interesting. Here is what each said or did when I told them.

Eleven Year-Old Daughter: Immediately started bawling, went to her room and returned in an all-black outfit. "Mourned" the rest of the evening.

Nine Year-Old Son: "No, not that. Who will take care of his horses?"

Five Year-Old Son: "Is that Gpa's daddy?" I said yes, then he said, "Can I call Gpa and tell him sorry he lost his daddy?"

Being at the funeral services, with so many family and friends, was a special experience. I learned some things about grandpa I didn't know. For example, I learned he was a daily journal writer for over 50 years. I learned that his nickname in high school was "Ike" and grandma's was "Sugar." I also learned that he and grandma drank Diet Pepsi like water. Why did I find these things out when he died rather than when he lived?

On the plane ride back, I tore out a page from the Southwest Airlines magazine on death. There were two short, interesting articles. The first was about Seattle's Quiring Monuments and how they are leading the nation in taking headstones digital. The company has begun affixing headstones with QR Codes. The tags allow visitors to use smartphones to scan the headstone and learn more about the deceased, as well as to leave comments on a memorial website. Pretty cool idea, no?

The second article was on cremation, and how nearly 70% of all dispositions in Washington State (where I live) are done by cremation. I wasn't sure how the church viewed cremation, so I looked it up. Here is what Handbook 2 says, and after experiencing the creepy factor of a viewing, sign me up.

The Church does not normally encourage cremation. The family of the deceased must decide whether the body should be cremated, taking into account any laws governing burial or cremation. In some countries, the law requires cremation. Where possible, the body of a deceased member who has been endowed should be dressed in temple clothing when it is cremated. A funeral service may be held.

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