We asked readers what their plans were for a final farewell party. Here are a few of their responses.
Hoping for a Little 'Help!'
My wife and I have taken the not-so-outrageous step of purchasing plots for ourselves. Less certain, however, is my wish to have my gravestone read, "He was too young to die, so we buried him alive." Topping things off, I expect the Beatles song "Help!" to play on a continuous loop during my viewing.
-- Dean Schleicher, 51, Owings
Feeding the Flowers
Nice as it might be, I don't believe in life hereafter. When I die, I will be cremated. My ashes will be mixed with wildflower seeds and packaged in little envelopes. This way, each person can sprinkle them wherever they want. It's a comfort to imagine myself of some usefulness after my death.
-- Clare Wilson, 61, Silver Spring
A Great View
I want my body cremated and the ashes flown in a small plane over the National Zoo (pandas) and the tennis courts at 16th and Kennedy [streets NW]. It must be done on a nice day (weather-wise).
-- E.K. Sweeney, 40-something, Rockville
I was lucky enough to meet and fall in love with my soulmate at the age of 17. So I find it impossible to imagine being apart for all eternity since we are both non-believers. I came upon the solution thanks to my longtime obsession with reading the obituary section of The Post. Another obviously hopelessly romantic couple shared their plans to have each other's cremated remains combined, then scattered in a mutually beloved spot. By doing the same I can know, without a doubt, that my husband and I will be united forever. Somewhere.
-- Anne Clark, 44, Alexandria
I would like to be buried beneath a large magnolia surrounded by red and purple bougainvillea, facing the sunset in a quiet, distant land between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. Or, within the walls of Wells Cathedral in Somerset, England. (I checked into the Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, which would have been perfect, except the tombs and mausoleums are only good for 100 years -- and then they reuse them.)
-- Archie M. Andrews III, Burke
One Last Laugh
I have given strict instructions: a wry smile on my face if the embalmers can manage it and a prominent card on my chest to be viewed as any mourners gaze down upon my remains, reading "Smile . . . I'm dead and you're not."
-- Wayne Keyser, 58, Arlington
Last Stop: Anatomy Class
I want to donate all my body parts to science. Then when there is nothing left but my bones, I would really like to donate them to a George Washington University anatomy class. I would love to have my bones displayed on a stand with wheels, with an 8-by-10 glossy of me when I was a pinup girl for the U.S. Army's Soldiers Magazine in 1975. Then I want the professor to announce to his students, "This is Miss Diane, and before this semester is over you are going to get to know every bone in her body."
-- Diane Truell, 50-something, Gaithersburg
Let the Truth Be Told
Often at funerals, speakers are so hell-bent on saying nice things about the deceased, they make things up! I don't want that to happen at my funeral. I want folks to say the truth about me. . . . If they thought I was a selfish know-it-all, then speak about it! Don't worry about me coming back to haunt you; I want you to say these things. No one is 100 percent good. I'm a firm believer in yin and yang, so if there's good, there also had to be bad. So speak the truth at my funeral.
-- Lauren Bailey, 37, Washington
The Gift That Keeps On Giving
I intend to donate my body to science. Since I am Catholic, my body will go to the local Catholic hospital. I have given this considerable thought and, even as an older person, many parts of the body can still be of use. My brother, who died at age 83, had wonderful skin, and it was used for burn patients. It seems a waste to me to allow the body to decay or be cremated, when parts could be used for the living. I consulted with a priest who said that donating your body to science is the "ultimate act of love."
-- Joan Hennemeyer, 81,
Nothing but Blue Skies
My choice is to have a pilot friend scatter my leftovers over an unpopulated area of the Blue Ridge Mountains. No fuss, no crowds, no weeping/wailing. Just a final flight for this old aviator.
-- Robert Noyer, 85, Winchester
Star Light, Star Bright
It's a pipe dream, but for years I've envisioned myself as a shooting star at my own funeral. The plan would be to get my body to outer space in some sort of container. All my family and friends would gather at my family's farm in Western Maryland (where the stars are so bright) on a moonless, cloudless night. They would sit around the bonfire singing songs and telling stories until midnight. At midnight, my body would be hurled toward Earth in its container. Everyone would look straight up, and I would enter Earth's atmosphere and become a shooting star. After I burn up, my ashes would then float around in Earth's atmosphere and eventually be scattered to all corners of the world.
-- David Potts-Dupre, 53, Takoma Park
One Final Party
My plans are outlined in my documents folder under "Open Casket, Open Bar." The instructions include "take my remains to Demaine's" (a nearby funeral home). One week after my graduation into the Lord's presence, schedule a one-day viewing with open casket and open bar (wine, champagne, beer -- no mixed drinks) and '60s music: Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Three Dog Night, the Who, the Doors, etc., as background.
-- Roe Panella, "a young 60ish," Annandale