End of Life Matters

Hopefully, my current life will continue another 50-70 years or so.  I don’t think I’d want to live to be much older than 100 since I feel that after that many years I’d be so sadly out of date it would trash any future incarnations, but I don’t want to die too young either because I’d like to see the far side of 70 for once (I can’t recall a single life where I did).

That being said, I’m probably more aware than ever that my meter’s going to run out one of these days, maybe sooner or maybe later.  And I think I want to have my affairs in order if I were to die unexpectedly.

If there’s time, I want the Cathar ritual of Consolamentum to be performed when I am obviously near death; understandably, it is very unlikely we could find a Cathar revivalist parfait on such short notice but if it’s at all possible, please do this for me.  If not, see if you can find a Buddhist priest to do readings or prayers, or at least try to find a recording of the Bardo Thodol.  I believe that both the Cathars and the Buddhists were among the recipients of the divine light.

I am not too concerned with my possessions if I were to die young since, even if we can’t manage to afford the wedding we’ve been wanting, my fiance will probably get anything of mine that he’d want to keep and plenty of support from my family, especially my father.  When I can no longer risk leaving Dad to look after him because of illness, injury, or old age, I’ll make preparations but until then I’m not concerned.

I am however concerned with the arrangements of my death and funeral being done in such a way that I’ll be more likely to remember my current life in future incarnations and the process of crossing into the bardo state will be easier for me.

As I recall, I was able to attend my own funeral in at least one instance (with John).  A prompt burial probably helped.  I think I should be buried promptly and without all the dolling up that usually goes into funerals these days.  A distinctive headstone, a grave near recognizable land marks, and possibly a tree next to the grave will be helpful in allowing me to recognize my grave, and keeping my body there intact might be helpful with the process of quantum entanglement (which I suspect had something to do with the way I saw John’s grave remotely as it was in the recent past).  If I’m buried before the stone is placed this may be especially useful.

As for specifics on this distinctive headstone, I want my name, my birth and death dates, the Greek phrase “γνῶθι σεαυτόν,” and an ankh based on a distinctive Ankh amulet found in the British museum (the art deco-looking one from Gebel Barkal), an Ankh styled to look like a modified cross flory, or a rosy cross.  As for the stone itself, go for something simple and dignified sort of like John got, though try not to make it look too much like John’s CWGC headstone (e.g. don’t copy the layout or dimensions of his stone and if possible use different materials).

As for the ceremony, allow any fellow Gnostic who knows anything about me to speak.  Read from the Gospel of Thomas, verses 1-5.  Allow a Buddhist monk to say a prayer, then tell those who have come what has likely become of me, if I haven’t simply ceased to be (which still might happen).

If I die violently, tell them I’m going through a really troubling time and need all the prayers, thoughts, parting words, and good vibes they can send.  Ask them to continue to pray for my soul until they have recovered from losing me.  By then I should have found my way to my next life.

If I die peacefully, tell them I’m probably in something like heaven, though not eternally; only long enough to be born again elsewhere in a short while.  Pray for my soul anyway after whatever your personal beliefs are, or simply try talking to me and saying out loud what you never would have said to me when I was alive if nothing else; I suspect that this practice is helpful in allowing souls to get their bearings.

Don’t worry about wearing black.  Come in whatever you’re wearing.  It’s going to be a funeral on a short notice anyway.

Don’t worry about the coffin or embalming.  I didn’t have either at L’Epintette and it didn’t matter.  Since a coffin will probably be required just get a simple box and don’t even bother with a vault if you can avoid that legally.  If you think I deserve better, have some of my artist friends paint it or something but don’t try to seal me away in some glorified tupperwear; that’s not necessary.

Don’t use one of those minivan hearses, or an SUV conversion; on the off chance I can see what’s going on I don’t want to see my mortal remains being carted around like 2x4s from home depot.

Do play some music.  Good music.  Assume that I can still hear this and get some good musicians and/or singers.  I don’t want all of these pieces but I’ll name some suggestions.  “Da Stiegen Die Menschen” from Beethoven’s “Cantata on the Death of Joseph II” is a good one, as is “Kyrie” from Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis.  Maybe Rachmaninov’s “Isle of the Dead.”  Seikilos’ song is a piece that goes back to Ancient Greece and is the oldest funerary music in existence, I would love that.  I sort of like the Prelude from Parsifal or the Prelude from Lohengrin, I wouldn’t mind either of those.

One last thing: I don’t want any more secrets when I die.  Make all of my notes publicly available to peruse and for those who know who I am, don’t be afraid to tell everyone that I’ve been here before, and that’s how I know I’ll be back.  Tell them about the life I lived before this one and the wonderful things discovering that life did for my writing and for the thoughtful way I tend to live nowadays.

Hopefully, no one will need this information for a long time.  I anticipate updating these final wishes many times over the years as I continue to live and grow.  Each version will be a snapshot of where I am spiritually at that time; this example, from the very beginning of 2015, will be one of the first where I feel some confidence that I know what to expect after I’m gone.

I had an earlier text on how I wanted to be buried back when I was a Pagan.  It suited me back then, but it doesn’t suit me now.  My journey is ongoing and I want to be sure I’m buried wherever I am on that journey at the end of my life.  I see no shame in changing one’s beliefs often if one is changing them to accommodate certain extraordinary evidence one is confronted with.  In my life, that extraordinary evidence has been curiously abundant.

Oh Shit

I just remembered my own funeral.  Shit, that was weird.

I’ll have to tell it in something of a stream of consciousness to get it down as it’s coming to me.

It was sunny out.  Ferme Buterne was just a plowed field laying fallow back in those days.  They put up a rickety wooden cross made from splintered shards of timber they’d recently removed from a repaired section of trenches until they could bring in a standard issue wooden cross.  There was a chaplain, of course, wearing this bright purple gown that whipped in the wind.

There were some others there; not a bad turnout for the circumstances, maybe a dozen at the most.  An officer was there, younger than me and looking smart with his big black push-broom mustache, and a few other boys from the battalion.

When they laid me in the ground someone came forward with a concertina and led the others in a chorus of “Abide With Me” as they lowered me down.  That’s when one of the younger privates from the battalion fell to pieces and began sobbing into the shoulder of an older corporal beside him (I saw the two stripes, that’s how I know).

Then about four of them grabbed shovels and filled it all in as the rest dispersed.  They buried me quick and left. The chaplain sprinkled one last shake of holy water on the fresh-turned earth.  Or he may have done it over my shrouded body before they began filling it in.  One of the implements seems to be the sort of narrow shovel the Royal Engineers used for tunneling, but I don’t know of any RE detachments near Houplines at that time so it could be just a standard issue tool for ground-breaking.  At any rate you didn’t need REs to dig a grave when everyone knew how to dig a trench.  I’ll have to look that tool up.

There are a lot of details I can confirm here if I can get some detailed information on the funerary practices of the British Army.  The CWGC may be able to help me there, they’ve been a good source so far.

If this description is accurate, it’s a small piece of evidence to support the idea that I knew I was dead.  I can’t say its accuracy will completely prove anything because I’ve already developed a preconceived notion of what a soldier’s funeral would be like in the Great War from the facts that I do know.

Still, something obscure that isn’t standard might come up later, like the choice of hymn or concertina.  I would think if the company musician had a diary, he would mention playing “Abide With Me” at my funeral if there were at least a few people who were very sad to lose me.

I hope it’s true.  I hope that I was truly missed by some, in spite of never having done much in my 39 years.  And I hope I find them one day in this life.  I have a weird gut feeling about our roommate and I’ve told him so, but I don’t know, and he doesn’t remember if he was there.