Yesterday I spent a little over an hour at Memorial Gardens, which conveniently happens to be neighbors to the Lieberman Center.
For a while I have been thinking about educating myself about pre-paid end of life arrangements for Gregory and me. I met with Lynn, who was very nice, well informed, understanding, and helpful.
At one point she asked Chris for help and I think after hearing me talk about planning for me and my partner, he decided to stay in the meeting. Turns out he is Gay, much younger than I, and his first lover passed away a short while ago. We had issues in common to talk about.
Not easy planning for your best friend, life partner's demise let alone your own. I told them I wanted a "no frills" cremation for both of us. Discussing the details was less difficult than I had imagined and only twice the emotional pushed the intellectual out of the way and I got choked up.
No service, no flowers, no catering, no obituary, no web site of remembrance, no coffin. Just a cardboard box. Ashes are delivered in a plain urn ready for scattering. There are two jokes about the scattering of our ashes which Gregory and I tell.
I want my ashes scattered at the circus. I just don't know if it should be before or after the elephants!
Gregory wants his ashes scattered in Lake Michigan since he so loves the water. So a few friends will gather in our bathroom, say a few nice words, and flush the ashes down the toilet. Fastest way to Lake Michigan!
Gregory and I had discussed this many years ago when we first wrote our first wills. It was hard for me to decide "Cremate" or "Bury." I still hadn't decided on the night before we were to visit the lawyer to draw up the wills.
Gregory and I were talking about the pros and cons of each when it dawned on me, "It isn't an issue of 'Do I want to be cremated or buried!' I DON'T WANT TO DIE!" After that it was easy to decide: cremation.
There are a lot of legal issues about dying and how to handle the remains. I have Power of Attorney for Health over Gregory. His nephew Mark and his wife Colleen are next in line to make decisions for Gregory if I pre-decease or if I cannot make decisions for myself they also take over that responsibility for me.
You could say that I trust them with our lives ... and I do ... and I have ... by making them next in line trustees.
Lynn suggested I look into one issue. Usually when a person dies, the Power of Attorney is terminated. I should make sure it states that I retain rights to dispose of Gregory's remains (and M&C for G and/or me!)
It gets a little more complicated. There is insurance for me in case I die while traveling and have to get shipped home. There are provisions for the pre-paid arrangements to transfer to another city if I move. The funeral director has a specific role to play as does the cemetery even thought there is no burial. There are additional fees that go to the state and city for various certificates and registrations. It goes on and on but both Lynn and Chris made it easy to understand.
So while I was dealing with something that could be very difficult, I felt empowered to be able to make decisions about the things I can control. And to have everything paid for in advance.
When Gregory and I leave this life, there will be no tangible evidence of our having been here. No grave, no stone, no tomb, no bench, no niche, no urn. What will remain is the love we were able to share with others, to be carried in their hearts until it is their turn to leave this life to go home.