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Passions in Poetry

Dying makes us a hero?

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Allan Riverwood
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0 posted 08-26-2001 12:12 PM       View Profile for Allan Riverwood   Email Allan Riverwood   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Allan Riverwood

Okay, one thing I'm growing very, very tired of...
I'm not sure a lot of people will agree with me on this one, but I'm gonna give it a shot anyhow, see who understands what I'm saying.
I am SICK and TIRED of how dying makes people a hero.  For example, let's say there was some mean guy named Pablo.  Everyone might hate him, tell him this frequently and avoid him, talk about him behind his back, and just generally treat him really poorly - and yes, perhaps he deserves it!  Perhaps Pablo's a jerk.
However if Pablo were to die, everyone would suddenly turn into weeping idiots, talking about what a wonderful person he was.  
Seriously, do you think it matters to HIM anymore?  He's dead now!
A girl died in my junior high school.  Admitted it's sad that she died so young, but she was just an average girl, she had yet to do anything really outstanding or mark herself as something at all unique.  After she died, the next morning there was an announcement on the PA about it, the principal was stumbling and searching frantically for the words to "appropriately" give the news.  "As you all know she was a wonderful person, who loved to laugh and had a great smile and bla bla bla" and a bunch of impersonal crap about her.  He didn't know her at all... so why is everyone like that?  She even got a library fund named after her.  Did she like books?  I'm not sure exactly.  But still, would it even matter?
Similarily, just recently a cab driver in Winnipeg died, and after this the cab company created and named some sort of award after him.  Because he died?
Some people work very hard to be recognized in such forms as these, to be praised with kind words.  Half of these people we DON'T recognize, we turn away from or we just neglect to examine carefully.  There are two sides to this, really... people who DON'T deserve any special recognition, but get it simply because they are dead... and people who DO deserve special recognition, but it takes their death to get people to finally recognize them.  

The bottom line is... if you appreciate someone, tell them before they die.  If you dislike someone, don't lie about it at their funeral.
I'm really, really sick of people being so different, but funerals all being the same.  When I die, do me a favour and remember me not in the form of general praise... remember the things you loved and hated about me, please.  I don't want to be remembered so thoughtlessly.
And please, don't name any awards after my death.  If I deserved to have something named after me, do it while I'm around to see it.
serenity blaze
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1 posted 08-26-2001 05:20 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Allan---there's a quote from Torch Song Trilogy that I love and use whenever appropriate--

"Dead people make few mistakes."

Titia Geertman
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2 posted 08-26-2001 06:29 PM       View Profile for Titia Geertman   Email Titia Geertman   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Titia Geertman's Home Page   View IP for Titia Geertman

I do understand what you're saying Allan.
I feel about the same way you do. Sometimes I think the 'hero creation' is due to a feeling of guilt somehow. Maybe I'm seeing this wrong, don't know, but I don't like the meaningless, impersonal crap either.

Last year I attended the funeral of good old friend, who always helped us rebuilding this old farmhouse. But during the whole hour the minister went on, the only thought in my mind was: 'hell, how can you talk like that about him, you've never known him as we did and what you're telling now is just not true and just not him'. At a point I really got mad, but hé, one can't leave in the midst of a funeral uhhh?

As for us, we did tell him what he meant to us, during his life.

Titia

A rose is a rose is a rose...I guess...
Feel free to use the pictures on my website. http://communities.msn.com/Titiasplace/

[This message has been edited by Titia Geertman (edited 08-26-2001).]

RSWells
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3 posted 08-26-2001 08:42 PM       View Profile for RSWells   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for RSWells

It frightens many when someone who has breathed in their presence expires. It brings their own mortality home and the knee jerk reaction is to salute them and hope their own passing is somehow marked and thus of some significance. Some are compelled by their station in life (eg;the principal) to honor the passing of a subordinate. It is expected by other minions and may even be the case in the cabbie's death.
   As far as heroism goes, you gotta kill alot of people to get a statue. I do find myself too often taking a few moments and reading obituaries of complete strangers and am surprised how much one can reconstruct the lives through age, region, relatives, organizations anon. It even has on occasion moved me teary eyed that a well written epitaph was constructed in tribute to those mourned.
  Your point is well taken that we should be kinder to those in our sphere for we never know if we'll ever see them again, but give some slack to the ones left behind who are either genuine in their grief or by position placed as spokesman to mark what may be the final acknowledgement of an ordinary existence.

"Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to decieve"

hush
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4 posted 08-27-2001 10:41 AM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

For the most part I agree, except I don't think there is anybody who never deserves special recognition of some sort. I'm not saying that impersonal funeral recognition is the way to go about it, I just thought that the way you dismissed 'people who DON'T deserve any special recognition, but get it simply because they are dead' was a little insensitive- they were people too.

I eat only sleep and air -Nicole Blackman

Dopey Dope
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5 posted 08-27-2001 10:54 AM       View Profile for Dopey Dope   Email Dopey Dope   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Dopey Dope

you know, if yer talkin about Ailiahahu who died in a plane crash....well i mean..thousands of people die everyday and just cuz this woman is a famous R&B singer really doesn't make her anymore special than any other person. In that plane crash she died, sure, but so did 8 others as I hear and in the papers and tabloids all they say is that SHE died.....what about the other 8 people!!??!? Don't they have names too!?

Well anyway, i agree....

I was born myself, raised myself, and will continue to be myself. The world will just have to adjust.

Somewhere out there a cow is laughing at you

Local Rebel
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6 posted 08-27-2001 12:14 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

True 'Heroes' are usually unsung.  Those who are honored in life for 'heroism' are usually not comfortable to be called a hero and don't desire the accolades.

People who die, and particularly those who die before living a full life, are memorialized by those who love them through things like library funds and scholarships -- or sometimes a park.  

My next-door neighbor's son was killed in a senseless accident along with his grandfather a couple of years back.  We honored him with a small park in our sub-division.

It is senseless and insensitive of the living to be jealous of the dead.

Further -- imagine you were a minister, funeral director, or official called upon to eulogize the death of someone you don't know -- the family and those who knew the person have come to you in a time of need -- a time when they may not have the strength to speak on behalf of their loved one -- you would do the best you could with whatever information was given.

[This message has been edited by Local Rebel (edited 08-27-2001).]

Moon Dust
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7 posted 08-27-2001 09:33 PM       View Profile for Moon Dust   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Moon Dust

I guess sometimes and I aint saying this is all the time but sometimes we don't appricate
a person until the're gone. Or we fear it too much that we repect it and all the people we've lost to death. Or maybe its just sympathy, that we dont feel we should die and no one else should either. There are lot of reasons, although it bugs me too. We shouldn't judge people for what we think that they are olny doing it out of guilt, parhaps they knew the person better than we thought or parhaps if you belive in life after death. Parhaps they are think that the person who has die is watching over them and the only reason the make a fuss is to show them how much they meant when that person was alive.

You don't have a choice to die but you do have a choice how you meet it.

Mother_Earth
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8 posted 08-29-2001 10:54 AM       View Profile for Mother_Earth   Email Mother_Earth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Mother_Earth

Allen, the only thing we as the public have to know about another person is... they were born, they lived, they may have multiplied, they died.  If you "knew" the person you already know the rest of the story.  But I know where you are coming from and it ticks me off, too.
Sunshine
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9 posted 08-31-2001 01:46 PM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine


When I pass on, should I outlast my friends and family who know me, and a stranger has to say anything, I would hope that the that person will say just two words:

She Lived!


When I pass on, should my friends and family who know me attend my funeral and one or the other of them might want to say anything, will say just two words:

She Loved!


[This message has been edited by Sunshine (edited 08-31-2001).]

citizenx
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10 posted 09-01-2001 02:47 PM       View Profile for citizenx   Email citizenx   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for citizenx

Allan, here is the irony. Death puts things into perspective. It intensifies people's emotions, everyone becomes more aware of their own mortality. If someone you never got on with dies it changes your feelings about them especially if they die young. I think that is the point of those circumstances. For example the public tend to be more affected if they hear on the news that a child, teenager was killed than an adult. For the simple reason that the kid has yet to achieve or experience all those things ahead of them. They never a fair shot at life, that is the general consensus. It is not that they are heroes, just that their lives were cut short, that they died before their time.

"the blizzard of the world has crossed the threshold and it has overturned
the order of the soul" leonard cohen

rascalx
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11 posted 09-01-2001 11:24 PM       View Profile for rascalx   Email rascalx   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit rascalx's Home Page   View IP for rascalx

Allan,

     I agree wholeheartedly with you on this subject! It is absolutely ridiculous that we make "heroes" and "saints" of people simply because they die a horrible death.
     And it only makes matters worse when the media starts glamourizing the event and pandering to the bleeding-hearts out there who immediately start demanding that a scholarship be set up in the deceased's name or a road renamed after them.
     I'm all for raising money for a "cause" but you don't see the local bigwigs calling for a foundation to be named after "John B. Normal" who died in a horrible plane crash yet we're already raising money for "A'aliyah's bla-bla-bla foundation".
     And for God's sake, when will the media STOP writing "fluff" pieces about people (mostly children, I've noticed) who die in horrible accidents? I'll give you a recent example.
     In late July, a young boy was killed in a freak accident involving an Oxygen tank that was misplaced in an MRI room (for those not medically inclined, an MRI is a magnetic resonance image machine that has a VERY STRONG magnetic field around it when in use. O2 tanks are made out of a very thick metal. You can imagine what happened.  ) I am absolutely mortified that this poor boy was killed in such a horrible fashion by someone's negligence but I do not see the need for the media to jump on this like a pack of dogs on a three-legged cat! It's bad enough that they wrote a big splashy piece about the accident but then they have to print rubbish like (and I quote) "Neighbors of the Colombini family said Michael was a happy child." What kind of happy crappy useless doggerel is that? Of course he was a happy child! What normal child isn't? What do they expect the neighbors to say? "He was a miserable little hateful crud who finally got what was coming to him?" PLEASE, stick to the facts and stop glamourizing other people's deaths and misfortunes!
     Ok, I'll get off my stump now! lol
                            - Jeff
mariee66
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12 posted 09-02-2001 07:31 PM       View Profile for mariee66   Email mariee66   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for mariee66

I think Local Rebel and I are on the same wave length here.  A lot of the scholarships, funds and so forth that are set up in honor of someone who passed away helps the living, while honoring the dead.  Whether or not we feel that honor was deserved--well, that's pretty insensitive.
I will say that it does burn me when someone famous dies, and they make a spectacle of it, or post grim pic's.  That's really stepping over boundaries, as far as I'm concerned. Human nature is to blame for that, so sensationalism is what sells, and the media takes advantage it.  I simply refuse to buy tabloids, and other things of that nature.
Brad
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13 posted 09-03-2001 02:17 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I've been following this lightly because I don't really understand it. That's okay, there are many things I don't understand.

People die. We all agree, right?

If this, for whatever reason, triggers postive, constructive feelings and actions in others, what's the big deal? Why criticize the action because of the trigger? I guess it's okay to complain that people don't do it more often, don't honor people when they're alive and all that but I fail to see how the two are related.

Are you suggesting that they not say the things they want to say?

Are you suggesting that they are insincere?

How do you know this?

As I read this, the implication is that there are some people deserving of acolades and some not. Who decides this?

If you look at the heroes thread by LR in the Lounge forum, you'll notice that many family members are mentioned. Are you also against this principle?

True, it may be a social convenience (the principal and whatnot) but I'm hard pressed to see the value in saying,

"She was okay."

"She really wasn't all that interesting."

and I fail to see how silence answers the question.

True, it may be a social convention that tends toward hyperbole but if loved ones are there, it is a form of comfort and what's wrong with that? As a social convention, why would you want to hurt people by doing less than the norm?

Telling the truth or keeping to the facts is not really the issue (aren't liking, disliking, and indifference rather complex feelings in the best of circumstances?), attempting to help, comfort, and care about others is.

I have no problems going after certain traditions but this is one that I see no value in criticizing. There are plenty of other situations that are worthy of criticism (precisely because what people say can result in situations that you didn't intend).

Really, what is the downside?

Personally, you're trading some mystical value placed on death for some mystical value placed on truth and sincerity. The result isn't some new understanding but an emphasis on defending the sincerity and the truth of what you say. Why do you want people to do that?

One final comment:

Allan said:

"When I die, do me a favour and remember me not in the form of general praise... remember the things you loved and hated about me, please.  I don't want to be remembered so thoughtlessly.
And please, don't name any awards after my death."

Why do YOU care how you'll be remembered?  You'll be dead.

Brad
Allan Riverwood
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14 posted 09-03-2001 02:37 AM       View Profile for Allan Riverwood   Email Allan Riverwood   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Allan Riverwood

Hah!  Touché.

People call me a madman, but I'm not mad at anyone.
~ Cat Rapes Dog, "Aquarius"

rascalx
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15 posted 09-03-2001 04:24 AM       View Profile for rascalx   Email rascalx   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit rascalx's Home Page   View IP for rascalx

Brad,
     Hmmmm.... you bring up some very interesting points and I have to admit that in my fervor to bash the media for their seemingly uncaring attitude, I neglected to think of the feelings of relatives and friends regarding how they want their loved ones to be remembered or honored. I agree with Allan - "touche'" lol
                            - Jeff
hush
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16 posted 09-03-2001 11:45 AM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

'Really, what is the downside?'

From an outside point of view I see where you're coming from, Brad- but what if it's a loved one that's supposed to be comforted who's bothered by the tradition? You've probably known someone close who's died- a parent maybe, or a grandparent. At their funeral, did the 'X was a good person in life who did his/her best' actually comfort you?

When my grandfather died earlier this year, I got to be very bitter with the entire proces of a funeral- first of all, we made the arrangements the day of his death, when everything seemed surreal. I'm not sure why, I guess it's just the accepted policy? To get the show on the road ASAP, I guess... but the funeral director asked us the basic facts of his life- kids, grandkids, was he in the military, where did he work- to construct an obituary. He didn't ask what my grandfather's likes were, his pet peeves or favorite shows, or even his hobbies, which would have been really easy to include. The end product of that was a dry boring obituary that reported the framework of a life. I personally hope I am not remembered like that. because while I will be dead, I don't want my future kids and grandkids looking at my obituary reading a shopping list of facts about me. I like to believe that people are more important than their jobs and number of children they produced. The funeral director didn't seem to understand this- because it was dissenting from the normal way he constructs a funeral. Then special attention was paid to things I thought were stupid- the color of the casket, what he would wear, an embroidered picture in the coffin lining- so I got the general impression that what was said about Grandpa doesn't matter, as long as his corpse looked pretty and we spent plenty of money buying this guy's funeral services. In that sense, I was very upset with the way a complete stranger tried to honor my grandfather, because we gave him a handsome sum to do so. We were, thankfully, lucky enough to have a priest that personally knew my grandfather to help with the little spoken bit about remembering him, and my uncle (a deacon) delivered the eulogy- but that doesn't comfort me knowing that there are other people having their loved ones' funerals botched irrevocably by strangers- and I think that's a pretty big downside to the normal societal convention of the modern funeral. You get jipped.

So in that respect, I do disagree with complete strangers heroizing the dead- however, I do agree that it's stupid to be jealous of the attention they get, or to bring up grievences you had in life... the people are dead. If you don't think they deserve the attention, don't show up to the funeral. It's not your responsibility to remember someone you don't think is worthy of remembrance.

I eat only sleep and air -Nicole Blackman

Local Rebel
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17 posted 09-03-2001 12:21 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

I think it depends on the family and loved ones hush to decide the tradition for themselves -- oftentimes that means we have to go along with the family and particularly those who were closest - such as spouses and/or immediate family.

I've heard many ministers take the opportunity of a funeral to sermonize or even speculate as to the 'destination' of the deceased which I disagree with -- but these ministers were of the faith chosen by the individual and or the immediate family in most cases -- we must grit our teeth and bear it.

As to my own father's funeral a bit over a year ago -- we decided, that is my siblings and I -- to each speak -- there was a minister -- but I think even he felt his contributions were superflous to what my hero's own children had to say about him.

Everyone should find their own tradition.  

I think it's incumbent upon all of us now to make sure we show up at Alan's funeral too so we can honor his wishes...  
Allan Riverwood
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18 posted 09-03-2001 12:45 PM       View Profile for Allan Riverwood   Email Allan Riverwood   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Allan Riverwood

See you there  
Brad
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19 posted 09-04-2001 01:54 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Hush,

It's when it doesn't happen that people feel uncomfortable. It's similar to saying or not saying Happy Birthday. When people say it, nobody thinks twice but when they don't (Say you're in a group of people in the office and everybody says this save one. That silence stands out.)

As far as the funeral arrangements, that sounds to me like the rationalization or modernization of a tradition -- and you had a bad funeral director.

He is providing a service and he should have known better. His sincerity isn't the issue, his ability to satisfy is. In this case, he didn't.  Of course, if he was sincerely concerned, it might've helped.

Brad
hush
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20 posted 09-04-2001 09:52 PM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

Maybe we should question why hollow comfort words from a stranger comfort us. Maybe we should question why hearing Happy Birthday from strangers makes us feel good. Do strangers really care? Not likely.

The people in my family are generally intelligent and assertive. This may have been affected by grief- but how many uneducated or unassertive people are losing the opportunity to remember a loved one in a more personal way because of the way things are rushed along? How many bad funeral directors are out there? How many people in shock from the death of a loved one are going to be in any condition to question the process? Maybe we should question it ahead of time, and have our priorities at hand.

I'm not saying that these strangers are out to take our money in a time of pain- most probably have the best intentions of offering comfort. The problem lies in the fact that everyone becomes remembered as a caring man/woman who did his/her best for his/her country/profession/family/other dedication. Nobody is remembered by how they contributed, just that they did, and it ends there. This kind of goes back to doreen peri's philosophy topic about aloneness, and my arguement about the state of contemporary mainstream music- that everyone is singing about the same thing in much the same manner, and in that, we lose our individuality. Don't the dead deserve their individuality, too? Granted, those closest should already cherish that, but what if someone who hasn't seen the deceased for several years comes? Or what if it just plain means more to the family when specific instances that best displayed the deceased's personality were brought up? I know that when my uncle provided examples of my grandfather's old-age orneriness, it gave the occasion certain nuances that it wouldn't have had if those things weren't brought up, and that's exactly what we remember people by- nuances. I'm not suggesting that every man has a son who is willing or able to do a eulogy, but everybody does have stories and characterization, something that sets them apart from the rest of the bodies in the ground, and it's really important that we realize that while the deceased was a person not too different from ourselves, the person also had a unique set of hopes, fears, and ideals. These things can't possibly be properly memorialized with the standard pat-on-the-back funeral.

I eat only sleep and air -Nicole Blackman

Brad
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21 posted 09-06-2001 06:21 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Wow, there's a lot here.

I think we should be aware that some things are cultural patterns, we shouldn't expect too much from people. I just don't think people are wrong for following this cultural pattern.

With the rest, I agree. It's not that much different from Dawn's thread in philosophy -- the rationalization of society means the loss of a sense of 'naturalness'. I don't know what else to do except to counter rationalization with rationalization.  You prepare and try to counter that depersonalized feeling.

What else can you do?

Brad
Local Rebel
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22 posted 09-06-2001 05:19 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

I don't want to wax philisophical in the Alley Brad but I think there is more to do with -- if i may use the word -- immaturity -- than coping with society here -- and I don't mean that in a pajoritive way.  

People have to go through the process of becoming comfortable with the notion that they are going to die -- and some people never reach that level of 'maturity'.

Sometimes I like to think I have but standing 94 floors above Chicago a couple of weeks ago on a semi-open balcony reminded me of my own innate fear of dying.  The whole problem that people face (I think) here is a manifestation of that fear in denial and lashing out at the way our culture handles it -- it wouldn't matter what the cultural norms were -- if we built funeral pyres or had burials at sea -- people have to get comfortable with the notion.  

[This message has been edited by Local Rebel (edited 09-06-2001).]

Android 17
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23 posted 09-08-2001 01:43 AM       View Profile for Android 17   Email Android 17   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Android 17's Home Page   View IP for Android 17

Hum...VERy interesting point Allan!
hush
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24 posted 09-08-2001 09:27 PM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

LR- are you saying that people are lashing out in denial of dath itself or in denial of the way it's handled?

You make a good point, it does provide an easy scapegoat for negative feelings about death- but I don't think I want to get comfortable with the notion of being remembered in a laundry-list manner. When you said 'it wouldn't matter what the cultural norms were -- if we built funeral pyres or had burials at sea -- people have to get comfortable with the notion.' I don't think you meant we should all get comfortable with the notion of assembly-line funerals, but that is what it sounded like. I think that we should all get comfortable with what we want people to remember about us, and have our loved ones plan a funeral from that- and not just accept that we were a good man/woman who did his/her best to raise children, hold a job, etc., etc.

I eat only sleep and air -Nicole Blackman

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