We’ve all heard people say something like, “When I die, just throw me in a ditch,” or “Just put me in a pine box, I don’t need anything special.”
These usually light-hearted, humorous comments have a heavier connotation to them when we read between the lines.
My guess is that the people making statements like these are really trying to say, “please, don’t inconvenience yourselves for my sake.” There is care in these comments that is asking to not be a burden. But, what I also hear is, “I’m not worth your time or money. Please don’t spend resources on me. My existence doesn’t warrant anything special.”
When we hear it that way – there’s a need to pause. That is a heavy thing to say and a heavier thing to feel. While none of us want our families to suffer additional hardship in the wake of our death (financial stress, decision-fatigue, etc.), taking away the option for them to remember us can actually be very harmful in the long-run.
We’ve talked before about the mental & emotional benefits of going through ceremonies and setting aside time to honor and remember the special life of a loved one. Throwing someone in a ditch doesn’t check any of those boxes. Treating a loved one like trash to be taken out with no ceremony whatsoever, isn’t good for us as people who are asking the question all the time, “Do I matter?” You do and you are worthy of a ceremony.
When we hear people devalue or over-simplify the huge event of dying, it’s an opportunity to say something loving and demonstrate how much their life means to us.
So, instead of ignoring these statements or laughing at them, what if we said something like this:
And just because you’re saying you don’t want to throw them in a ditch, doesn’t mean you’re going to the other end of having the most expensive funeral ever. There is always a middle way that appropriately honors your loved one, works with your budget, and provides the sacred space to love and remember them.