i am terribly claustrophobic and the thought of being locked in a dark box six feet under makes my heart race, my palms sweat, and if i imagine it for too long, i actually hyperventilate. of course, if i was dead, my heart wouldn't be beating and my body wouldn't be sweating or hyperventilating. regardless, the thought makes me ill, so why put myself through it? i've always actually been comforted by the thought that i'll be cremated.
it wasn't even an issue until shortly after i joined the catholic church, and an elderly lady told me that catholics couldn't be cremated as cremation is a grave sin. i was totally shocked. in my naïveté, i couldn't believe that the church would have anything at all to say about how one was buried. so, i quickly did a little research. finding that pagans and "freethinkers" would have their bodies cremated as a sort of "thumb in your eye" to the idea of a resurrected body and the church's horror at such a notice made sense to me. but, then i found that according to the catechism of the catholic church, “The Church permits cremation, provided that it does not demonstrate a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body.” and i breathed a very heavy sigh of relief. if the catechism gives me the green light, then i'm good to go. besides, thinking too hard about an emotional subject hurts my brain; so at the time, that was enough for me.
the only time i ever actually argued with anyone about the subject was when my stepbrother died. he wanted to be cremated, but my biological father refused to do it. i was completely appalled that anyone could be so selfish and insensitive. when i went to the funeral and there was my brother's body on display, i confronted my dad for not honoring my brother's final wishes.
dad, how could you not honor his final wishes to be cremated?
because i don't want to burn in this life or the next.
are you kidding me? this isn't about you.
i'm not gonna burn my son. and i won't burn you either.
i walked away essentially hoping that he would die first so that he couldn't cause a fuss. and later, staring at my brother's sunken, waxy body in his casket, knowing that was not what he wanted, made me physically ill. i firmed my resolve to be cremated and actually made sure that everyone close to me knew full-well my wishes to be cremated. it was easy in fact because my mom, my step-father, my husband and i all want to be cremated. and more likely than not, we'll be the ones making arrangements.
but now there's a wrench. my step-father is gravely ill and he still wants to be cremated. some of his family (in-laws, no less) are kicking about it. in fact, one of them told my mom, death is for the living. to my mom's credit she didn't slap the woman, but said, this isn't any of your business. the woman in question argued that, it is our business. we're all family and we should all have a say.
okay, this sort of thinking is totally alien to me. where is this woman coming from? yes, i agree that a wake or a memorial service is for the living -- closure and all that. but the burial itself? i don't think so.