Oh When I Die #TuesdayTidbit #Jottings #Inspiration

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.




My late husband Bill loved organizing things. He planned every little detail of our wedding, including who would bring us a plate of food at the reception. Naturally, a few years after he suffered two strokes that paralyzed his left side, he decided to plan and pay for his own funeral.

We visited one funeral home and weren’t impressed. A representative from another came to our home. Right away, we liked him and what he had to offer.

At the time, we were living in Sheridan, Wyoming, where I still reside today. Bill wanted to be buried with his family in Fowler, Colorado, about 500 miles away. We were assured that when the time came, that could be arranged.

It felt strange, planning a funeral for someone who was still alive. But when Bill’s time came, I was glad everything was arranged in advance. He wanted only a graveside service, which turned out to be lovely, despite the November wind. Many people attended, including my dad, two uncles, an aunt, and cousins. Several of Bill’s friends shared their memories of him. As he requested, I played my guitar and sang “Stormy Weather.” You can read more about this in My Ideal Partner.

I just turned sixty last summer. I should start thinking about planning my own funeral. It would make things easier for my family like Bill’s making and paying for his arrangements did for me. But I have so many questions.

My brother once told me that when people die, they simply cease to exist. So, what is it like not to exist? We talk about pets crossing a rainbow bridge when they die. Why can’t humans do the same thing like in this song by Abba?

Then again, what if, when you die, you’re still aware of what’s going on around you, even though you can’t move or talk. If this is the case, cremation is definitely out for me, since I’ve always been fearful, yet respectful of fire. Lying underground would be boring but not painful. Yet, burial is more expensive than cremation.

I know one thing for sure. I want to sing for my own funeral. When I’m ready to make arrangements, I’ll provide the funeral home with one or two recordings of me singing songs with piano or guitar accompaniment that can be played during the service. I know this sounds vain, but when I die, I want a celebration of life, where people can hear me sing one last time and share memories.

How about you? Have you thought about what you want done when your time comes? Thanks to Morpethroad for inspiring this post.

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

Front cover image contains: elderly woman in red sweater sitting next to a window.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?



My Amazon Author Page




Memoir Offers Insights on Death

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: and Other Lessons from the Crematory

By Caitlin Doughty

Copyright 2014.


This author, with a degree in medieval history, a star of the online video series, Ask a Mortician, shares the first few years of her experiences working in the death industry. She starts with her first job as a crematory operator in San Francisco, explaining in detail the cremation process and how she was the one to do the actual cremating. She also describes going with another employee to collect bodies and observing the embalming process.

She then talks about how she eventually moved to Los Angeles where she attended a mortician school and became certified. After another job collecting bodies, she gained employment as a funeral director. She also shares her disillusionment with embalming and other techniques used to make a corpse look natural before a viewing. She suggests taking responsibility for what happens to you when you die.

She also talks about her life growing up in Hawaii and how she took an interest in death after seeing a child fall from a second-story balcony of a shopping mall. She touches on the history of death and how other cultures deal with it. In the end, she relates the details of her grandmother’s passing. Her story begins in the morning at the San Francisco crematory and ends at night in a nearby cemetery.

Because of my experiences with death over the years, I was fascinated by some of her stories and horrified by others. Despite the grimness of the subject, I found myself laughing at some of her anecdotes.

When she described shaving a corpse for the first time, I was reminded of the time I saw my late husband Bill’s body at the nursing home before he was taken away. Shaving him was far from my mind, as I stroked his hair and talked to him for the last time.

When Doughty described picking up bodies at hospitals, nursing homes, and people’s homes, I thought of the two people from the funeral home who came to pick up Bill. Soft-spoken, the woman assured me they would take good care of him. When I asked about arrangements, the man said someone would contact me. You can learn more about my experiences with Bill’s death in My Ideal Partner.

When I started reading this book, I was afraid of death, and I still am. I didn’t think Caitlin Doughty could explain what it’s like to die. Nobody really can. Once you find out, there’s no way to tell others.

My brother, a physicist, once said that when you die, you simply don’t exist anymore, but what is that like? When pets die, they are said to have crossed a “rainbow bridge.” Christians believe that when you die, you see Jesus and are reunited with loved ones passed.

I would like to think that when my time comes, I will cross a rainbow bridge and be reunited with Bill, but what if that’s not the case? What if you’re aware of what is happening to you after you die?

What if Bill heard the last loving words I said to him including my promise to see him on the other side someday. What if he knew he was being wrapped in a shroud, strapped to a gurney, transported to the funeral home, and placed in a refrigerator?

Both my parents were cremated. What if they felt the pain of the flames, as their bodies were being burned until there was nothing left but bones?

If you or your family chooses to have a viewing, necessitating an embalming, what if you feel the instruments cutting into the artery on your neck and into your abdomen to drain blood and other internal fluids and infuse chemicals that make you look more natural? Of course lying in a grave for eternity could be boring but certainly better than burning or being stabbed.

I hope I don’t die for a long time, and maybe when I do, someone will know something. In the meantime, this book is a great start to understanding what can happen to your body after you die.


Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

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