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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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67 Responses to 637

  1. James says:

    Yay first comment! lol

    Well I’ve planned my funeral many times over (sad I know!) but my latest plan (since become Christian) is to have it mostly based on worship. A celebration of my life but concentration on God. I want the song “Sound of Melodies” played and everyone is to go up on tip toes on the “up” of “rising up to you” which is a custom within the youth of our church.

    And I have people who I have told this is to be how it is just in case I get run over by a bus on the way to college sometime soon :p

    I’m not going for total control like I used to want but as long as the song is included and it is based around worship (of God not me!) then I think it’ll be a pretty good send of.

    Oh yeah and I am being cremated I REALLY REALLY don’t like the thought of waking up in my coffin (which has been known) my biggest fear really.

  2. Carole says:

    Not before the party. :)

    OK, yes, in my lighter moments I do fantasise about my own funeral, my spirit flitting around the church/reception venue eavesdropping on all the wonderful things that people are saying about me, how gutted they are that I am gone, how the fabulous catering must have cost an arm and a leg (ha!), how the worship band were fantastic and a few extra choruses wouldn’t have gone amiss. ( ;) )

    Yes, all terribly ‘of the world’ I know. The reality is that the carefully chosen music for the coffin’s recession from the church is cut short as the undertakers don’t want to ‘miss their slot’ at
    the crematorium. And nobody turns up because in this day and age, business doesn’t stop even for death so no-one can get time off work to attend for anyone other than immediate family.

    Every now and again I remember that I am mortal and promise myself I will plan my funeral, to save anyone I love the hassle. In fact, I wonder whether they would prefer to have something to occupy them in that weird time between death and final committal.

    Still, who cares? When we finally set eyes on the great goal for which we have hungered all our lives, I expect the last thing we will be concerned with is curly ham sandwiches… :)

  3. Caroline Too says:

    I want the vicar to say

    “well at last Caroline’s getting her wish…

    she’s going to lose some weight now!”

  4. ED... says:

    Can I have a big jiffy bag, do you think?

  5. ED... says:

    Anyone else ever hear John Ortberg’s story about the woman who kept her fork?

  6. Linus says:

    painlessly would be nice.

    And you can plant the tallest bloody daffodils you can find on my grave please.

  7. Jackie says:

    Death by Chocolate. What a way to go.

  8. Mike says:

    Wow this is a cheery one.

    I’d like to go with a smile on my face.

    Oddly enough I am heading back to England for my Grandfather’s funeral.

  9. becky says:

    Well, I’d definitely choose a more carbon friendly method than the Vikings did.

  10. Laura says:

    Not in a blaze of glory like that…that’s for sure. Fire phobia and all. eeeek.

  11. Sue says:

    Six Feet Under style, buried straight in the ground near a tree, with nothing between me and the earth.

  12. Laura says:

    Mike, sorry to hear about your Grandfather. Safe journeys!

  13. subo says:

    to the magic of Sutton Ho

  14. dadube says:

    Skippy and I want our ashes to be spread on Murano (the little glass producing island in Venice).

    Assuming the whole thing isn’t underwater by then of course :)

  15. I’m letting the medico’s have me but I quite fancy the thought of painting my own cardboard coffin…wondering if there could be a business opportunity there…hmmm

  16. soniamain says:

    would have to be buriel so my lovely husband could make a beautiful stone

  17. PeterP says:

    Saturday we watched Beowulf & Merlin (guess you watched one of them too!), and wondered if anyone in UK does boat burials. And then the Co-op funeral service is advertising on telly…

  18. dennis says:

    Thank GOD Im not the only weird one being obsessed with my own funeral and I do think about it often.

    I went to a funeral last week that reminded me how UN natural things are. When my father died remember how people wanted me to stop crying at the top of my voice at the graveside! ?? why? @$%^ off and let me grieve.

    so here are my pet hates of a funeral.

    1. The awkwardness felt in the congregation, lighten up a bit.
    2. No one prepared to get up and talk about you/them? And tell the truth.
    3. People saying nice stuff about you when you die and not when your alive.
    4. ornate veneered boxes with silk in, how strange.
    5. Wrapping autopsied bodies in plastic! Its unnatural.
    6. Lets have a nice spread back at our house? NO have a proper party somewhere else.
    7. People pretending they loved you and of course they did not.

    Shouldn’t we just be buried in the ground against soil? and not a strange looking box, I would like just a simple rough looking wooden one made out of old pallets something like off a cowboy film.

    We have decided we don’t want to have our funerals in a church building we want it just at the graveside with a remembrance service a week later with all kinds of memories and stuff. I keep a video diary and I have made personal ones for wife and children to remind them of what they meant to me, there are also some instructions there too and some thanks for people who have changed my life.

    Anyway your all invited and I hope you have a great time at my party, by the way I love wild flowers. And Iain Cotton makes some really nice headstones (he is in Jons blogroll)

    on a lighter note.

    My step Father is a funeral man and the stories he tells are truly AMAZING. More and more people are putting mobile phones in the coffin JUST in case and the rest of the items I will leave to your imagination.

  19. miriworm says:

    Laura #10 – watcout it could be the death of you! :-)

  20. Pat says:

    4 days ago, I was doing this for my dad (a retired anglican priest). He’d left some straightforward directions: no mourning colours,3 specific hymns and 2 particular readings – one of which (his favourite psalm) he wanted me to read. The church was full of spring flowers – prepared by parishoners; 3 of his grandchildren were involved in readings and music; we reflected on and celebrated the physical, emotional and spiritualjourneys of his life, and the rich legacy he had left for his family and friends. For the committal at the crematorium, which is the bit that can often be so horribly brief and non-participatory we all said some words together – sending him on to ‘new horizons, new life, new beginnings'; thanking him for all that he had meant and would continue to mean to us and for all that he had contributed to our lives; and commending him to the one who created him, and who now welcomed him and enfolded him.

    While we were en route back from the crem, our funeral car was full of funny stories about dad and the one with all his grandchildren in was full of loud singing!

    In as much as such occaisions can be ‘good’, then I think that this one was. It was celebratory – but not in the false ‘we musn’t mourn’ way that dennis is rightly angry about: it allowed us to feel and express our deep sadness at dad’s death but also to recognise and affirm things that were important about and to him and give thanks for those.

  21. Rockingrev says:

    Believe it or not I actually prefer ministering at a funeral than a wedding! At a wedding you are simply a warm body to do a job before the real party can begin for most people. However with a funeral you actually get a chance to minister to people in need. When I die doctors will take away any bits not worn out to be recycled and then I will be cremated at an upbeat service of thanksgiving to God for the gift of life. Not for the giift of existence, but life in all its fulness. I then want my ashes scattered at a favourite trout stream. Then everyone can have a wee dram!

  22. Kim says:

    I had to do my mums quite recently and it was tough because she died in tragic circumstances, but I found it hugely comforting and significant to be able to celebrate and mark her life along with so many others who she loved and loved her.

  23. Robb says:

    Becky – don’t worry, carbon emissions at cremetoriums are tightly measured and regulated (well at least here in the UK). You won’t even see a whisp of smoke.

    That said, it is putting the carbon you have removed from the eco system bac ;)

    When I go I want a propper period of mourning. I think I would like a full on requiem mass with a stay overnight in church. As I don’t minister in that tradition I’d have to call in a favour from some friends to do it.

    Then off to the crem for a couple of blase words and my coffin going behind the curtain to ‘paradise city’ by GN’R. That should be plenty of mourning.

    Then a massive party to celebrate the good things I hope to do if I have change. If not, just raise a glass and say ‘he had good intentions; :lol:

  24. beatthedrum says:

    Discussed this at some length with my wife but i really want amazing grace sang at my funeral, BUT with the intro done as a full speed wipeout roll…..


  25. If anyone, I repeat anyone, wears green to my funeral (the colour of Hibernian FC) OR sings ‘O For a thousand tongues to sing’/Days of Elijah

    I’m coming back to haunt them.

    Just saying!

    I think my worry is that you, know, I kinda look forward to dying. Yeah, ok, I hope people might miss me a bit, but really, I’m like…heaven is going to be so cool!!! Stop being so flippin’ depressed and be happy for me.

    Kinda difficult to explain to my non-christian family, who would want a ‘traditional’ funeral I think. I’d like the funeral to reflect who I was (someone who didn’t take things so seriously) and be a celebration.

    I’d like to die in a way that people can’t help but laugh.

    Oh, and I’m coming into ‘here comes a regular’ by The Replacements.

  26. kls says:

    well, if i could choose, i’d stay, thank you, i mean, it’d be nice to skip the death part and get to heaven directly with Jesus leading the march. :)

    but come to think of it, that viking-type funeral seems great, i’d love it. but if the people burying me can’t get papers for that, i want something ironic and punchy written on my tombstone, like “be right back” or “Boo!” something … dunno.

    … or, i want statues of crying angels, for they are goth! :D

  27. Karita says:

    I want my entire body to be donated either as an organ donor or to medical science. Then I want a simple memorial service. No coffin, just lots and lots of singing.

  28. beatthedrum says:

    Hmm i also fancy the warlitzer organ playing “Oh I do like be beside the seaside’ as i am shoved into the incinerator….

  29. rebecca says:

    I’ve only just got to this point, after ploughing through the discussion under cartoon #635, so I’m going to go right back to Carole’s comment, #2.

    The point about not allowing people time off for anyone other than immediate family is vexatious. One of my friends (who admittedly did not have a good relationship with his employer) was not allowed time off for his stepmother’s funeral, on the grounds that she was not a blood relative. But there was no question of my friend not attending the funeral, because he needed to support his father (who had just been widowed for the second time).

    But please give me credit for being a bit more sensitive. Last year an assistant asked me for time off for the funeral of a not particularly close relative. I said yes without question, and I’m very glad I did — it turned out the poor boy had been murdered, so his family needed all the support they could get.

  30. rebecca says:

    Advice for anyone who wants to leave their body to medical research — put it in your will! And make sure your relatives know. (You can register as an organ donor, but I don’t know if you can register in any way to donate your body to medical research).

    I doubt my funeral will be very interesting, given that my family isn’t religious, and there will be no body to cremate (for the above-mentioned reason). But should my mother find herself in the unhappy position of arranging my funeral, I have told her that my preferred music is Faure’s Requiem — particularly the Offertorium, which changes from minor to major at the end!

  31. Chris F says:

    Woody Allen “it’s not that I’m afraid of dying, I just don’t want to be there when it happens”

  32. Friend of ours made a coffin out of felt:

    Fleece With Altitude

  33. jonbirch says:

    rebecca and carole. one of the upsides of self employment is going to as many funerals as i damn well choose! how dare any employer choose for you whose funeral you attend and making judgments about who you are allowed to grieve! a big ‘booooo!’ to all employers who behave like this… if you are an employer who just happens to be reading this and this is the way you treat your staff… shame on you!

    i (like dennis and others) think on the subject of death every day, sometimes a lot. i think about loved ones lost… the hole they leave… the legacy they leave… what hole might i leave… will i leave anything of any use to anyone… how i would like my funeral to go… whether anyone would turn up… what my loss might mean to others… what the loss of others might mean for me… and on.
    for the most part, the most by a big margin, these are not miserable thoughts… they seem constructive… based on reality… i have found much joy and comfort in remembering… my own fears have been stilled by positive thinking and imagining about this area that we wouldd like to avoid. the process of dying though, is inevitable.

    i’ve thought about having an open coffin, so that i could wear a ‘smoking kills’ t-shirt. i’ve thought about having an actual funeral service before i die so i get to thank people for sharing in my journey. i’ve thought about faure’s requiem and aztec camera’s ‘walk out to winter’. i’ve thought about a new orleans style parade. i do really like the burning viking on a raft idea of being sent on a journey.
    whatever does happen though, i’ll have thought about it a lot and something else will probably happen entirely. :-)

  34. jonbirch says:

    dogs often wander off on their own to die in peace. that’s kinda sweet. even though we were there when my mum died, it was also, very much, her own private moment.

    fireworks! loads of fireworks! that’d be cool! :-)

  35. jonbirch says:

    one more thing… everyone blue bubbles at my mums service. prayed silent prayers and blue bubbles. there was a magical moment when the church was filled with bubbles as a
    sign of peoples prayers to god and a symbol of my mums joy in life.
    it was sonia’s idea and one my mum loved… so did my dad when we told him. :-)

  36. Ros says:

    By cremation. Just to make sure!

  37. sarah says:

    The best crem funeral I have conducted was for a Norwegian man. His family made a beautiful replica ship out of cardboard which sat on top of the coffin and a plasticene model of their dad. They then put things in the boat to accompany him on his journey. There were sweets because he had a sweet tooth, a rose bush and secateurs because he like gardening and a compass to find the way. It’s the only time that I have had a funeral address turn into a theological dialogue on how we will find our way to heaven.

  38. soniamain says:

    and the bubbles were beautiful and it was moving and it was so your mum Jon!. Thanks Dennis, Iain cotton is my wonderful, creative husband, my worry is who does his stone if he dies first?!

  39. rebecca says:

    Re: bubbles. Here’s a suggestion — make a pattern with candles (perhaps the person’s name, but write it in mirror image); then blow the bubbles over the lighted candles. I’ve never seen this done but apparently it looks amazing — the bubbles shoot up, reflecting the pattern of the candles.

    Just make sure you’re in a building that won’t be damaged by bubble mixture!

  40. dennis says:

    wow soniamain I didn’t know that! I love the one he did with the lyrics to ‘every breath you take’. He is very talented and clearly in touch.

    Do you do discount? credit crunch an all!

    I was wondering today about a virtual funeral? seeing as tho most of us are virtual here or maybe its just me and you guys meet every week in the pub!?

    If anyone plays the organ at my funeral I will come back and haunt them. (nicely)

  41. Carole says:

    Sonia, what a wonderfully creative thing you came up with with the bubbles…I really love that idea…might just rob it!

    Dennis, do you know that the majority of my death thoughts of late revolve around dead blogs. Most of the people we know in cyberspace we do not have any physical connection with…so what happens with all the dead bloggers? We all need to put passwords to blogs in our death plan and give instructions. I would hate to think that any of us could be taken at any time and nobody would know. How morbid of me, but it does worry me.

    I threaten to have ‘Disco Inferno’ played at the Crematorium for me. Don’t know if the family would find it a bit distasteful, but I would love to think I could raise a few smiles with a cheesy disco number…could have them dancing in the aisles. Maybe I should have a 70s theme funeral.

  42. Kim says:

    Themed funerals – now there’s a business idea whose time has come! There could be funeral planners, where you lodge all your requests before the necessary time, dress instructions (flares, kipper ties, platform shoes?) I’d have an 80’s one and have The Smiths played full pelt and everyone would have to wear a paisley pyjama top and carry gladioli or daffodils. Fabulous Carole!

    PS Any spare prayers gratefully received – I fell down the stairs today and have a sprained ankle and broken big toe – ouch.:lol:

  43. Hil says:

    I’ve planned my funeral over and over again. For my Christian friends I want it to be a celebration of God and his goodness to us. For my non-Christian friends I want them to witness the hope Christians have in death. The problem is while I be able to join in? So, as a Methodist Minister and moving on to another circuit in a few weeks time, we’re singing my funeral hymns at my leaving service. We’re going to have a “reet good sing” (as we say in Lancashire) and I shall sing with great joy “And can it be”, “In Christ alone” and “The Lord’s my shepherd” (Stuart Townend version!

    What we’re not having is Meatloaf’s “Heaven can wait”, which I do want at my funeral – an ironic choice for someone who’s anticipating “going home”!

  44. Forrest says:

    Hey Y’all;

    Neat idea on this one :-)

    Wife Kathy has had her OR “sendoff” ans now is in operation now for hip replacement.

    Waiting room has free complimentary interbet access – is thatcool or what!


  45. soniamain says:

    rebecca love your idea of bubbles and candles, will try that one. carole pinch away, we have also used it in general services ( regular feature at our services in greenbelt!) christenings, school assemblies and weddings- the best was at our friends Gayle and Steve wedding who had an outside ceremony where it rained!- the bubbles stayed on the grass for ages.

    Dennis you can always try and negotiate a price!!

  46. Laura says:

    miriwood- accckk…I hope not! :shock: house caught on fire when I was a kid..not a big fan of fires as you can imagine.

    This thread has been amazingly wonderful to me today for some reason.

    Recently, had some occasion to look back on some stuff that happened in my life ’bout 20 years ago when i was pretty young. was present at the delivery of my friend’s still born baby,then my dad died, 6 months later watched a lifelong friend die, year later my grandma who lived with us died…

    just a nights ago drug out pix of my dad that i hadn’t looked at for many years. sometimes healing from grief is a long time coming i guess

    this discussion about death and all it’s absurdities, timely and wonderful.

    thank you

  47. Kim says:

    Now I’ve ‘been through it’ as it were, I’m amazed that there is so much opportunity for humour around death than I would have imagined before! My family just cracked up the whole time in the days after when organising things, making black comments and jokes and roaring at every least maudlin or sad thing.

    Amazing what gets you through, and my mam would have loved every minute of that stuff.

  48. Laura says:

    In Mexico and many parts of the Southwest US, people celebrate “Dia De Muertos” or “Day of the Dead” with a big, colourful party. People dress up in skeleton costumes, have parades and dances, shrines to remember dead relatives, food, drink…

    Great fun!

  49. TyTe says:

    At my funeral:

    A reading of Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant (http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/SelGia.shtml)

    We sit and listen to Mozart’s interpretation of Laudate Dominum (http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDmsInSvgPA)

  50. Carole says:

    Kim, seems, from what you say, that you are coping fairly well with your recent loss, though no doubt there are ups and downs. I’m glad that you have felt able to contribute to this thread. I think death is in many ways the last taboo…but we do actually need the opportunity to talk about it, and explore it since it is the only thing we are all guaranteed to go through. By the way, Kim, I hope the toe gets better quickly.

    Laura, I’m so glad that you have found the conversation beneficial.

    I, too have found this timely – it is the first anniversary of my own mum’s death tomorrow. I suppose hers was a fairly normal old age death…being present with numerous other relatives at her passing over was, strange to say, one of the greatest privileges and blessings I have ever experienced despite the natural grief we all felt. We brought her home to my sister’s house where she lay for almost a week. My fabulous sister tended to her daily, touching up the make up, if needed, and curling her hair…funeral directors do a wonderful job, but hairdressers they ain’t!

    Much love to all ASBOers who carry their own burden of grief and those still to experience it. xxx

    Thanks for this one, Jon. x :)

  51. Will says:

    I can go to, but hate, other peoples. I cannot contemplate my own. It ties me in knots just thinking about it.

  52. jonbirch says:

    don’t worry will, i already have yours planned! :lol:

    laura… i’m glad this was helpful. that was the intention. it is always a risk. i’m mindful that for most cartoons there’s someone feeling it at that moment. talk about death and dying needn’t be maudlin, making things worse. it can and should be helpful. also, i think about death as rejoicing in the lives of others. i am scared of the process of death if i’m honest… but not trying to embrace it somehow makes it worse… trying to embrace it seems to help a bit. :-)

    kim… i was touched by your comment. when obama got elected i thought ‘i wish my mum was here to see this with me.’ she wasn’t political in the way i am, but she would have rejoiced in the hope and embraced it and let it invigorate her. she would have embraced obama’s ideals and worked hard (as she always did) to bring positivity and hope to those around her. :-)

    carole, i will be thinking of you tomorrow. i hope it is a day filled with good memories… and i hope you feel ‘held’. :-)

    all my love to those who have read or commented here and recently lost a loved one. i wish you peace. :-)

  53. Robb says:

    Carole – I had a friend online who died. We were in the same flickr group. We met a few times. Then his brother came and told us that he had a massive asthema attack and died aged 23. It was a very sober time as the group came to terms with someone we knew online and then in reality dying unexpectedly!

  54. Kim says:

    Carole, I hope you are ok today, and that great memories will bring you comfort. You’re right, there are good and bad days, but overall I’m so blessed to have known her at all, and I know I’ll be seeing her again at some point.

    Toe – black and blue and fat. Sorry, too graphic this early :lol:

  55. Will says:

    dancing on my grave goes not constitute “planned” thank you very much!

  56. jonbirch says:

    loads of love carole. x :-)

    ooh… sounds painful kim. :-(

    will… i thought a light hearted opening approach to the subject of your end might be helpful… clearly not! :lol:

  57. Claire says:

    Having helped plan a couple of funerals, I wonder if Christians are in fact less well prepared for funerals than the world at large! While I think that it’s right and appropriate to give thanks for someone’s life, if I cry at a funeral, it’s not because I feel sorry for the person who has died, but because I feel sorry for ME and the big hole that is left in my life where they used to be. Isn’t that what grieving is about? Faith can be a comfort, acknowledging that our loved ones are with God, but I think this depends on the kind of death the person had – when my Grandma died at 92, we read 2 Timothy 4 at her funeral (“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”) It was very sad, still, but it felt like God was welcoming her home. By contrast, when a young man at my office, who was greatly loved, died suddenly a couple of years ago…I would have liked to throw rocks at God. God was a comfort to me further on in the grieving process, but certainly not at the funeral.

    I suppose what I’m getting at is that a funeral is about the needs of the people who are left behind. I’d like to think that people will have a good laugh at my funeral, and sing songs that I like etc…but really I hope that my friends and family are able to do whatever they need to do to say goodbye to me.

  58. Claire says:

    Reading back over my previous comment, and the other comments that others have left, I fear I have been a bit pompous, so I’m sorry about that.

  59. Robb says:

    Na – don’t sweat it. I agree with you!

  60. Carole says:

    You didn’t sound pompous Claire, you made a perfectly valid point.

  61. jonbirch says:

    yes claire… my pomposity alarm didn’t go off or even threaten to. :-) in many parts of the world you are allowed (maybe expected) to howl like a wolf for the loss of a loved one… you’re allowed to ‘lose it’ for a while. what you say is true claire… we can be very good at stifling cathartic opportunities. we do, as a culture, seem to fear extreme emotion. that is sad.

  62. Robb says:

    Bit of a sad one yesterday. We buried a woman who had been in a home for 5 years. We weren’t even sure anyone would come. In the end there was a small group – mostly of care workers. It was really sad that the summation of a life could come to “she likes tonic water and chocolate marshmellows”. I wonder what she was really like before she lost her mental health and eyesight and everyone around her…

  63. Claire says:

    @Robb – that sounds really sad. But then again, I don’t know if there really is a good way to go – it seems to me that either your mind goes before your body (e.g. with dementia), and this is hard for those close to you and often undignified, or your body goes before your mind, and there’s a sense that you’re going before your time (I even felt this about my Grandma, who was 92, and “with it” almost to the end.)

    This is the way that I take comfort from God’s presence in death – that God knew that woman before she was born or thought about, and would still recognise her, despite the ravages of age and infirmity, and welcome her home. But that’s nice in the abstract, and probably not much help for the grief of the people who knew her in those last difficult years.

    @Robb, Carole and Jon – I’m glad it didn’t come across as pompous then. I just re-read the really personal comments others had left and I felt like I had been a bit brash and forceful with my opinions! Y’all are a really caring bunch of people and I’d hate to take away from that.

  64. Robb says:

    I know what you mean. I felt the same when my Grandad died this year. He went from being a creative artist and thoroughly decent (but quite excentric) man to a demented husk of his former self. Thing is we all remember him as was and were there with him until the end. His eulogy was extensive and the people who were there loved and cared for him deeply and were glad that he had been released from it. He wasn’t reduced to an empty church, some flowers in the shape of a bottle of tonic water and a eulogy that read “We at the care home did this. I did that. She drank tonic water.” I suspect that her contribution to society hasn’t been fully summed up by that or the people who were there.

  65. Carole says:

    Robb, that’s a really sad story…it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that people who live to a ripe old age have once been young, vibrant individuals who have lived exciting lives…in the end they (we) simply become the summation of their (our) infirmities.

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