Burial options are fine, but I give them very little thought


A story in the paper last week really got me thinking about death.

No, it is not a great topic to spend too much time thinking about, but we all have to at some point. And the older we get, the more it tends to pop into our heads at the worst time – like in the middle of the night. Hard to sleep through those thoughts.

But we all need to decide what will happen when we go. Will it be a traditional burial in a coffin? Will it be cremation? If so, will your kids have to cart your ashes around for the rest of their lives, or will your family spread them at your favorite place? And speaking of favorite places, would you prefer your back yard, that magical spot you love to fish or an Applebee’s parking lot?

There is also the option of having your cremains mixed in with the soil at the base of a tree near the Rock River, as highlighted in a front-page Life story last week. That seems like a pretty cool option to me.

I am opting to be cremated when the time comes. My mother did the same, and my dad spread her ashes in a beautiful part of the desert near where I grew up in Arizona. I am not sure where I want my ashes scattered, and I really feel like it doesn’t matter. I won’t be around to complain if they end up on River Road because my Harley riding friends accidently spilled them on a memorial ride.

Actually, that would be a great story.

Ultimately, I personally don’t really think it matters how we decide to be sent off to … wherever or whatever. That is why we are seeing more cremations and options like forest burials.

Traditional burials are becoming less popular as an option for many reasons. They can be costly, of course. But the reality is that we are a much more mobile society these days. Sure, some people stay put, but generations living in the same place is not as common as it used to be.

I think of my grandfather on my mom’s side. He died before I met him, and was buried in a cemetery in Jacksonville, Ark. Luckily, I was stationed there when I was in the Air Force and went to visit his grave. I was probably the last person to do so, and that was in 1984. He has no family anywhere near there.

Is that sad? I really don’t think so. My grandfather only lives in my memory as stories and pictures. And those are things I will cherish, not a gravesite I will probably never see again.

My dad is moving from my hometown soon, so I probably won’t have a reason to visit again. There will be no real connection there for me. So, I am glad my mom doesn’t have a gravesite there that I would worry about. Is it being taken care of? Is it still there?

I am not concerned about what my wife does with my ashes. I love my life, and my wife and children. Hopefully someday I will have a grandchild or two as well. For them, I will only live on in memories and pictures – and a few videos too, of course.

But I don’t need a place for them to come and visit. Life is for the living, so I want them to focus on being the best they can be and enjoying everything this beautiful world has to offer. I know that I am.

So, my wife knows she can make the decision on where my ashes will be spread. But I have it in writing what will happen to my beloved guitars. I can’t leave that to chance.