Thinking about death

It is with the utmost sadness of our friends and family to announce the tragic death of our beloved Spicy Tuna Ro, who perished during a routine fly by of Saturn in her handcrafted space vessel, The Meow Machine, when it collided with an asteroid.  She is survived by her two wonderful cats, her partner of 17 years, parents, sibling, and all 1,525 of her Twitter followers. Rochele would like to be remembered for her excellent taste in music, clothing, going to bed early, and her ability to meal plan for an entire week at a time. She will be greatly missed on all social media platforms, but her partner is somewhat relieved that her cookbook collection and wardrobe will cease to expand. In lieu of flowers, please buy flower seeds and plant them everywhere for the bees. – My obituary, probably.

I spend more time thinking about death and dying than anyone else I know, and not in a ‘I want to die’ way but more of a ‘one day I’m going to die but I’ll be ready for it’ kind of thing. For the record, I do not plan to die for a very long time. One of my adult chores this year is to have a proper will done up, but if something should happen before then, here are my wishes:

I want to die as pain-free as possible and I don’t want to die alone. Please hold my hand and play my favourite music.

If I’m permanently incapacitated, brain-dead, or unlikely to ever wake up, let me go. I am a registered organ donor and if it’s possible, harvest anything that can be harvested. I would love nothing more than to give others another opportunity for a better, healthier, and longer life. Donate whatever is left to medical science. I don’t mind being a cadaver for medical students to cut up, sew back together, or even to try their own hand at being a Dr. Frankenstein. But if the hospital absolutely insists on returning whatever is left of me to my loved ones, do whatever is the most eco-friendly. I’m down for an organic burial, but ABSOLUTELY DO NOT EMBALM ME OR SEAL ME UP IN A CASKET. Bury me somewhere nice, like under a rose bush or something, but skip the grave marker, and make sure it’s legal. Or give me a viking burial at sea, surrounded by all my books. Be creative, but again, make sure it’s legal.

Give my phone to Jen. She knows what to do. She’s my designated digital legacy holder. If it’s password protected and you don’t have the password, I still expect my privacy to be maintained. I have zero intention of haunting this realm but God save your soul if you hack into somewhere you’re not supposed to be, I will go full poltergeist on you.

I don’t want a funeral. I want a wake with a life-size cardboard cutout of myself to greet people at the door, and you may select one or two from my fashionable IG account. For those that imbibe, I want whiskey sours, pickle backs, and Pyramid Audacious Apricot Ale to be served. I want balloons, disco lights, some Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston and some Abba. I won’t say no to smoke and lasers or karaoke, I just want people to laugh and dance and enjoy life. I also want a sushi buffet and the after party to be at a pho restaurant. Ask Tiffany, she’ll know where to go. And instead of a guest book, just post your best wishes and memories of me using a witty hashtag like #DeathRo or something on any social media platform of your choosing, except Vero. I would love if you would wear something weird and wonderful to my wake.

If you can’t make it to my wake, how should you honour me? Get up early, drink a green smoothie, pet a cat or dog or both as often as possible, wear something you’re proud of, and love your life as you’re living it.

I’m still giving thought to my belongings and what I want done with them. SproutO, Malroy, mom and dad, you can keep whatever you want. There are mixed CD’s with questionable content on them that you should definitely listen to when you’re missing me, they are eclectic and awkward, just as I am now. I have enough blankets and throws for all immediate family members to take one home, but leave the red fleece ones and the soft white one for the cats.

It’s important to think about what you want and make your wishes well-known. One of my favourite death positive people is Caitlin Doughty, and she has forever changed how I think of my own death and what I want to leave behind. If thinking about this is new to you, check out her YouTube channel and website. And please, please, please consider becoming an organ donor.

 

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I Don’t Like You and You’re Going to Die and I’m Not Okay

This post was written and published with the consent and input of the survivors referenced below.

A while ago Anne Theriault tweeted something that really struck a chord in me: It’s funny how even the deaths of people that you didn’t respect or like or ever want to think about again can still sting so hard.

It’s in regards to Rob Ford, the infamous former Mayor of Toronto, known for his addictions, scandals, and general disgrace. There is a Rob Ford in my own life, and I’m 99% sure he’ll die before we ever speak to one another ever again.

I think about how I’m going to feel when I get that phone call. My heart hurts for the people that he’ll leave behind and all the wrongs that will never be righted. I’ve accepted that an apology is never coming. I’ve also accepted that I do not have to forgive him, I do not owe that to anyone. It does nothing for me to pretend like what happened to us was okay. It wasn’t okay. To withhold forgiveness holds him responsible for his wrongdoings and trespasses. He hurt me and others and caused irreparable damage that will carry a lifetime of emotional scarring.

He’s going to die one day, and it will be really hard for me. I will be angry, and sad. I’m sad that he ruined his own life over some very selfish decisions, but more so that his pride kept him from being in a loving relationship with his family. The number of times that we tried to help him, pleaded and argued with his family to help us help him, fell on deaf ears until it was too late. They were in denial that there was a problem.

To withhold forgiveness holds him responsible for his wrongdoings and trespasses.

Misogyny played a big part in his wife not receiving the support that she needed. He wasn’t physically abusive; he merely followed her around the house from room to room calling her a cunt and telling her how useless she was for years and he wasn’t an alcoholic because he didn’t slur his words or stagger. There was never any consideration for the children that lived in that house with him.

It’s an old and toxic way of thinking, and I’d like to think that his family would do better for for her if this happened now, but I’m not so sure. I likely won’t be invited to his funeral, which is is fine but I would go to support his only child, who didn’t know her father before he succumbed to addiction and undiagnosed mental illness(es).

This is the only way she ever knew this man, and he terrified her. A trip to Disneyland will not erase the times that he was drunk and made her get in the car with him to blow through stop signs and red lights at speeds greater than 80 km on residential streets. An afternoon music festival won’t smooth over that he packed up her things without warning and left them on his porch in the rain. She will never forget that he kicked her dog in the ribs, or yanked his leash so hard that the dog cried out in pain. He will never know about the tears that she cried and the sleepless nights of anxiety before she had to go to a court appointed visit with him, and to this day he still tells her that his ex wife and her daughter ruined their relationship.

But he will die one day, and he will likely die before she ever gets the chance to tell him that he is a monster, that he scared her, that she feels abandoned. He’ll leave behind enough hurt and betrayal to last a lifetime, there will be no last minute pardon of his wrongdoings. He will never truly know, because he is blind to others suffering. For us, the suffering never ends.