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A Brand New Day January 27, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, People, Spirit & Ego.

Turtle-Underwater“When is the viewing?”

“No viewing.  He’s already been cremated.  All that’s left is ash.”

“WHAT?!  How could you do that?!  You knew we’d want to see him again.  And that we’d want to bury him in the family plot next to mom and dad.”

“Hmm . . . to be honest, I didn’t consider what you wanted.  HE wanted to be cremated.  I arranged for his cremation.”

“But you should have let us view him first!”

“Why?  That’s not what HE wanted.  HE didn’t want people admiring the work of a mortician, talking about how peaceful HE looked.”

Lotus“But we wanted to see him again!”

“Too bad. Too little. Too late.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means HIS wishes trumped yours.”

“That’s not good enough.  How could you ignore what WE wanted?!

“I’m sure you can figure it out.”

“Spell it out for me anyway.  I want to understand why you chose to disregard OUR wishes.”

“OK.  Here goes:  He called you. And called you. And called you. And YOU did not call back. YOU didn’t write. YOU didn’t visit. YOU ignored him while he was alive so I felt no need to accommodate YOUR egocentric desires once he died. HE asked to be cremated. I honored that request. Case closed.”

“But you had no right to cremate OUR brother!”

300px-Paradiso_Canto_31“Of course I did.  If I didn’t have the legal right to dispose of his remains, the funeral home would have refused my request.”

“That’s not what I meant! You should have called US to see what WE wanted.”

“I don’t see it that way. And, even if you could somehow convince me now, it’s too late.  It’s a done deal.  Deal with it.”

“He never should have married you!”

“But HE did.  And now he’s dead.  It’s a brand new day.”

Aah . . . that’s better!

When someone dies . . . should the wishes of the deceased trump the desires of the mourners?


1. Rainee - January 27, 2016

Interesting post Nancy! As to your question at the end of the post – I definitely think the wishes of the departed are paramount.

nrhatch - January 27, 2016

Thanks, Rainee. This post is fiction, but I’ve seen similar simian battles in situations where “significant” loved ones ignored the wishes of the dearly departed because they felt entitled to what they wanted when they wanted. It always bothers me.

2. Jill Weatherholt - January 27, 2016

It’s all about me, eh?

nrhatch - January 27, 2016

Of course! 🙄

3. Kate Crimmins - January 27, 2016

Of course. If you do the dying, you get to pick what happens next. Families are nuts.

nrhatch - January 27, 2016

Agreed x 2! If the deceased wants to be planted on the top of Mt. Everest, he’s going to have to hire a Sherpa, but if he wants to be cremated without first being ogled by mourners, that seems reasonable. And I would try to oblige, even if it ruffled some feathers in the land of the living.

Kate Crimmins - January 27, 2016

We have had many friends who did not want anything at all with all the funeral expense $$ going somewhere worthy. No one in the family yet but it will happen. Maybe I’ll be the first one.

nrhatch - January 27, 2016

That makes so much sense, Kate. Often, funerals seem geared to assuaging the guilt of mourners rather than celebrating the deceased’s life.

E.g., People who equate the size of a funeral sprays with how much the decedent was loved by that giver ~ as if size matters. 🙄

4. Hariod Brawn - January 27, 2016


nrhatch - January 27, 2016

Succinct! I like it! 😎

5. Kate @ Did That Just Happen? - January 27, 2016

While I believe that the wishes of the deceased be honored, I don’t know that we have to necessarily trump the wishes of the mourners. The burial ceremony is for the living after all.
Having said that, if the wish is to be cremated, then a nice memorial service with pictures is a good way to get around a viewing. 🙂

nrhatch - January 27, 2016

Some people want their body to be buried. Others want their body to be burned ~ ashes to ashes and dust to dust. On that issue, I believe the deceased should have the final say. But, as they often are not around to make the final arrangements, I’ve seen families disregard the decedent’s preference and substitute their own.

That bothers me . . . especially if I heard them PROMISE the dearly departed that they would honor his or her wishes.

And, yes. Cremation doesn’t prevent anyone who wants to hold a Memorial Service from doing so. After the dust settles, mourners can gather (in one or more locations) to share photos, anecdotes, hymns, incense, or any other falderal that appeals to them.

Thanks for weighing in.

6. Grannymar - January 27, 2016

I’m with Kate Crimmins all the way!

We were having a discussion on this side of the pond the other week about organ donation and families not wanting to go ahead with the wishes of the deceased person’s wishes.

The deceased person’s wishes RULE in my book!

nrhatch - January 27, 2016

Yes! If the decedent wants to donate organs to give life or sight to others, it boggles my mind that anyone else would try to prevent it.

7. anotherday2paradise - January 27, 2016

Absolutely right, too! Selfish people always believe it’s all about them. 😬

nrhatch - January 27, 2016

The egocentrics among us believe the world revolves around them . . . and should continue to do so, no matter what. 😛

anotherday2paradise - January 27, 2016

Tell me about it! 😯

nrhatch - January 27, 2016

But some are so terribly charming, we must forgive them their trespasses ~> I say that having just watched Dowager Countess Violet trying to control the lot of them on Downton.

She is one tough old bird. A real nutcracker!

8. Under the Oaks - January 27, 2016

Absolutely the wishes of the deceased should trump the wishes of the mourners! I love Kate Crimmins’ comment!

nrhatch - January 27, 2016

Me too! Family ties can be tiring at times. It can be impossible to keep the peace due to competing interests. So we have to stick our necks out and let ruffled feathers fall where they may.

9. Carol Ferenc - January 27, 2016

Don’t get me started! The deceased’s wishes should be honored whenever possible. Some last wishes might be difficult to accommodate but I would feel that I owe him/her the effort.

nrhatch - January 27, 2016

Agreed. Reasonable requests should be accommodated. That said, if BFF asks me to climb up on his funeral pyre, I am apt to disappoint him. 😛

Carol Ferenc - January 27, 2016


10. Becky - January 27, 2016

When my uncle passed away, he didn’t want a funeral, he wanted a three day wake, much after the fact. His family honored his wishes, but not only did it drag out the process of saying goodbye over 5 months, it also robbed them of being surrounded by people that also loved him in his time of passing. It definitely made those of us left behind rethink the ‘no funeral’ stance. So while I think there is something to be said for respecting the wishes of the deceased, what happens after their passing is not about them – it’s about those left behind trying to come to terms with the passing.

nrhatch - January 27, 2016

What an interesting request to have a 3 day “wake” five months AFTER his death. In most cases, a wake (or viewing) is held before burial or cremation . . . so the corpse present:


Everyone deals with death in their own way. In Puerto Rico, a funeral home used a special embalming treatment to keep the corpse of 24-year-old Angel Pantoja Medina standing upright for his three-day wake ~ dressed in a Yankees baseball cap and sunglasses, Pantoja was mourned by relatives while propped upright in corner of his mother’s living room:


While your uncle’s unique request hasn’t persuaded me that a decedent’s dead body should be held hostage and “put on display” against their wishes, his friends and family should feel free to gather together and grieve without feeling guilty. Even if they later meet again for the requested “wake.”

11. Val Boyko - January 27, 2016

I think when the deceased makes a choice against the socially accepted norm it can get tricky for conformist relatives to support.
On the other hand, my mother has planned her funeral to ensure she will be the central talking point at her last party.My brother and I are expected to carry out her wishes, and make speeches on certain aspects of her life that she wants people to remember her by. It can become an issue when the dead continue to try to control the living!

There are always different perspectives and beliefs that come into play. You got me thinking Nancy!

nrhatch - January 27, 2016

I agree with you, to a point, but I don’t see cremation as a choice against the “socially accepted norm.” Now, if the decedent here wanted to be run up a flag pole and saluted while taps were played . . . I could see some mourners taking issue with that. 😛

I’m glad that you mother has made HER wishes known. If you and your brother agree to carry out HER wishes, I hope you follow through. And if she is expecting too much from you, I hope you’ll speak up and share your concerns with her now, even if it means saying, “I’m not willing to do that for you.” That way she can find someone else to take the lead in honoring HER wishes . . . if that person is out there.

In this case, I don’t see a request for immediate cremation as the dead trying to control the living. The siblings are free to do whatever they want to do . . . other than holding their brother’s body hostage for a viewing he opposed.

Val Boyko - January 27, 2016

It isn’t the cremation Nancy. I like the idea of the flag pole though!
My mum is a narcissist, and so it is important for her ego to be in control, even after the end.
We will follow her wishes about how she wants the ceremony to be and no more. We have both told her that and reassured her she will have a lovely send off.
Guess who she admires the most in Downton Abbey … 😉

nrhatch - January 27, 2016

The Dowager Countess? 😀

nrhatch - January 27, 2016

That flagpole idea came to me while researching 3 day wakes ~ after reading about a Puerto Rican lad who attended his own wake propped up in the corner, wearing a baseball cap.

As my aunt used to say, “It takes all kinds.”

12. Debra - January 28, 2016

Quite a coincidence, I suppose, but I had a version of this conversation today over lunch. My friend, 84 years old, in great health but aware of her age, mentioned telling her daughter of her wishes to one day be buried very quietly and simply, no funeral. Her daughter does not like this idea…and our conversation went from there. I think having the wishes of a loved one prior to their death is a great gift in that the decision is made. And for me, it would be final. I do think we should always try to respect the wishes of the deceased. In your story, though, I think the key to the conflict is that opportunities to be with the person in life was not honored. Spend time with the living, and let them go when it’s there time! That’s my firm belief!

nrhatch - January 28, 2016

A compromise for your friend and her daughter might be a quiet, simple burial sans funeral to lay your friend to rest per her wishes . . . followed by as elaborate a memorial service as the daughter wants to honor hers? Hope they come to a solution that works for both of them.

And, yes, in this story, I focused on siblings who were NOT a significant part of the decedent’s life in later years wanting to jump to the helm and steer the ship . . . with no regard for the decedent’s wishes.

I’ve seen some awful peculiar behavior surrounding death rituals. Among them, elevating a “devil” to “sainthood” for fear of speaking ill of the dead. :mrgreen:

13. BunKaryudo - January 28, 2016

Well, in the case you outline in your post, the relatives are so horrible it’s hard not to take the wife’s side. In other cases where everyone genuinely cares for the deceased (when alive, not just when dead), I’m not so sure. Part of the value of funerals is to help loved ones with the painful grieving process. In my own case, I don’t care so much what happens to me. I’ll be dead. If there’s anything that remains of me, I doubt it will be in my body.

nrhatch - January 28, 2016

Same here, Bun. I want to be cremated but I don’t much care what happens to my ashes after that. Although, come to think of it, I’d rather not have my dust sitting around gathering dust on someone’s fireplace mantle for perpetuity.

As for the rest of it, I’m convinced that anyone who “genuinely cares” for the deceased would want to honor his or her wishes as a final parting gift. But, in many cases, mourners are more interested in doing what they want rather than honoring what the decedent wanted. Which, to me, indicates a lack of genuine caring.

BunKaryudo - January 28, 2016

You may be right. It’s not something I’ve ever thought much about until your post. Speaking for myself, I’d be inclined to follow the last wishes of the deceased as long as it was something legal and practicable. (I might have a hard time with, “I want to buried on Pluto.”)

nrhatch - January 28, 2016

Just so, Bun. I would have no problem responding to a “burial on Pluto” request with a brief, “Don’t look at me, Bucko!”

But if someone I care for shares final wishes that aren’t “out-land-ish,” and I promise to do it “their way,” I would feel honor bound to honor their request . . . even if others tried to override the decedent’s wishes.

14. L. Marie - January 29, 2016

I think the most telling aspect is the fact that the person had called and written and tried to make contact and was ignored. So the wishes of the deceased should take precedence over the wishes of those who simply want a big show.

nrhatch - January 29, 2016

Agreed. If they’re not involved during someone’s life, they don’t need to be involved in planning the ‘send off.”

15. NancyTex - January 30, 2016

100% agree the wishes of the deceased trump all else. Without question.

nrhatch - January 30, 2016

I’ve been hard pressed to come up with a counter example which would make me vote against the decedent’s wishes . . . other than the practice in India that requires a wife to climb atop the funeral pyre and be consumed in flames beside the corpse.

Uh . . . no!

In that case, I would definitely give the wife VETO power over the decedent’s wishes.

NancyTex - January 30, 2016

Agreed. No joint burning, thank you very much.

nrhatch - January 30, 2016

Hah! On Bun’s latest post, they’re talking about a growing “weed” in a “pot.” Now you’re talking about “joint” burning. What is the Universe trying to tell me?

Maybe it’s time for a “trip” to Colorado to get a “Rocky Mountain High.” :mrgreen:

16. reocochran - January 31, 2016

This was a serious post and I had to check, Yup. This is my friend, Nancy’s post.
I feel if the relatives, even siblings are not in close contact and there wasn’t a good reason like illness or disaster to keep them away from the dying that the decision goes to the ones closest. The people who showed up and were sitting, holding hand of loved one through sickness and dying should have the “last say.” Hugs, Robin xo

nrhatch - January 31, 2016

I try to do one “silly” post a week ~> Silly Saturdays. The other two posts vary from serious to humorous depending upon which way the wind blows.

People who care tend to demonstrate caring while we’re alive. If they haven’t, why do they care what happens to a corpse?

17. jannatwrites - February 25, 2016

It’s surprising how many people are quick to disregard the wishes of the deceased in favor of what they want. It’s not always about us.

nrhatch - February 25, 2016

Absent an unusual/ impossible request, I’d do my best to make their “dying wish” come true.

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