Happy Birthday To Me! I’m Going To Die!

It’s my birthday! So for the next hour until certain someones starts demanding all my attention I can do whatever I want! Maybe go rock climbing, try out some extreme ironing or blog in my nightgown with a steamy cup of coffee. You can see where this is headed…

Why not celebrate the anniversary of my birth by writing of my eventual demise? Mary at Better than Eden did it so well, I can’t help myself but copycat her idea.  So not only are these my final wishes, they’re my birthday wishes so disobey them at your own peril! (I mean, I don’t believe in ghosts but if St. Theresa can throw some roses your way, I can hurl some thorns from purgatory out of spite if I need to.)

1. Do not embalm or embellish me in any way and put me on display like a wax dummy. I will not look peaceful or “like I’m sleeping” or “in a better place.” No, placing me under rose lights will not help. I have enough selfies in my Instagram account. Remember me that way, with a cider in my hand, a child on my lap or my tongue sticking out.

2. I want a full Requiem High Mass. There will be somber music, my casket in the center aisle draped with a black pall, black vestments, all of it. This is not “a celebration of my life”, this is the ultimate prayer for my soul. No funny eulogies during the ceremony, just a reminder that we have but one purpose in this life before we return to ashes. Do I expect the service to make some people uncomfortable?  Undoubtedly. And if the thought of dwelling on death at a funeral makes you too sad to attend, don’t bother showing up for finger sandwiches at the luncheon. (And they’re going to be awesome and gluten-free so I think you should suck it up and go.)

This is long, and I don’t require a full orchestra, but you can’t beat Mozart for a Requiem Mass. You’ll get the idea after the first couple minutes.

3. In leu of flowers, just give my family money to pay for this Mass and have other Masses said for my soul and that of my family. Yes, really. I’m pretty sure my behavior in this life is going to warrant a layover in purgatory.

4. Like Mary, I think the Trappist coffins are the way to go, that is unless Tony goes all Hank Hill and makes our coffins for fun some time. Don’t be swayed by the funeral home; I don’t need a cushy interior or air tight seal because I’m freaking dead and don’t care. What’s it matter if I become compost now or later?


5. I want a nice tombstone, in a nice Catholic cemetery so my descendants can easily find it and enjoy coming to visit and say prayers for me. There is a Catholic cemetery just walking distance from my in-laws where I like to stroll. People are always there laying flowers, or visiting their relatives. Don’t forget about me. I mean, don’t put Jack O’Lanterns and Christmas lights on my grave but come and visit when you’re able. Especially November 2 when you’ll get an indulgence.

Something subtle, like this.

6. After I’m laid to rest, go have a nice luncheon together and then when all the stodgy old people are gone, hit up an Irish Pub and swap stories. Have a drink, have lots of drinks, sing loudly, laugh, cry, shut down the bar and remember me as only a drunken mob can. And every year, on the anniversary of my death, pray for me, lift a glass and laugh in remembrance.

Any questions?

I approach death like everything else in my life, with a Catholic sensibility a sense of humor. I’ve also read Last Rights and The American Way of Death Revisited and highly recommend both. Although it freaks out the children to know their mama reads about death, I see no reason not to study up on something so universal and unavoidable.

Today, I celebrate my life; tomorrow is always an uncertainty. Thank you Lord for another year and every day hereafter You bless me with. May my life always give You glory and bring me, and my family, closer to heaven.



  1. Haha, yes! I want to be at your funeral in a totally friendly I-don’t-want-you-to-die-but-your-funeral-will-be-great kind of way! You know, I may have to change my mind about the wake thing and copy you with just closing the darn casket. I don’t think not being embalmed is even an option, is it? Because of, you know, the um, biological processes and all? If it is, I’ll take that route as well, I think. We should make this an internet thing…we’ll be like the goth clique of Catholic blogging.
    Also, I love your tags and happy birthday!!!!

    1. You might be surprised to learn what you need to do and what you may be persuaded to do when it comes to planning a funeral. A funeral home is a business like any other and needs to make a profit. However, you do not need to purchase all the services they are offering. I recommend http://www.funerals.org/ for help in planning your final arrangements. If my family really wanted a viewing, I’d say lay me out on the dining room table under some candles within 24hrs after my death and let people file through like the good old days. And anyone who wants to sit up with me through the night is welcome to do so. Then horse drawn carriage to the church.
      And I need to buy some fresh black lipstick before we start a Goth clique.

  2. Happy Birthday, Kelly!! Your post topic is somewhat surprising for the day, but of course it makes sense and is so important.

    I love how your Catholic approach to your death will provide for the needs of your soul and for the wellbeing of your loved ones. Catholic funerals are not as feel-goody but so much more deeply comforting. I love how you’ve specified everything down to the celebration afterwards.

    We have used the Trappist caskets for my dad and some other family members, and I cannot imagine a more wonderful experience. Our state requires those cement outer liners, though, for most burials. Recently I’ve learned that our local (Trappist) monastery has a graveyard where people are buried with no embalming and wrapped only in a shroud if desired (although I think I’ll go the Trappist casket route too). My husband and I are planning to go out there and pick our plots so that will be one fewer detail for the family to take care of after we’re gone.

  3. Please ensure that there are plenty of potato chips at your funeral luncheon. Potato chips=food of grief.

    Happy Birthday! I’ve always liked that saints are honored on their date of death–their birth day into eternal life.

  4. If you didn’t live so far away I’d offer you my husband a KICKASS tenor for Mozart’s Requiem (heck, I’ll sing soprano if someone can watch the kids – pretty sure I know it by heart, although you’ll need to decide if you want the most recently edited version because things got changed pretty significantly…). And then people would be like, “Oh, how did you know Kelly?” And I’ll be like, “Well, we never met in person, but we were facebook friends and I followed her blog, so I figured I’d come to her funeral, you know?”

    This is seeming more and more awkward by the second. Maybe I’ll just stay home…

    Happy Birthday!!!

  5. Love it! In the South we love funerals (is that strange?) because you get to catch up with everyone, kinda like a reunion with a grave-side service. There’s a great book about this called “Being Dead is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies’ Guide to Hosting a Perfect Funeral.” It’s a riot, especially if you live in the South/ were raised there. It even has recipes for funeral food!

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