“Death is a part of life.”

True, but most of the time most of us prefer not to notice it. Then we turn on the news and find that Tim Russert or George Carlin is no longer with us. Or we pause on the obituary page while thumbing through the paper- and check the ages of the deceased to see who might have left us “before their time”. Or we pull to the side of the road for the oncoming funeral procession- and then rush off to pick up the dry cleaning. These kinds of encounters remind us that death walks among us in impersonal ways.

Other times, death is a bit more personal. Like when we got news a couple weeks back that a friend of 15 years died unexpectedly at age 40. Or when a close friend told me that a woman who was like a 2nd mother to her had passed away last week. I’ve got the privilege of helping the friends and family of the latter with the memorial service tomorrow. On Monday I met with them to talk about the woman they had loved and lost and to make arrangements.

As we talked, I discovered that there wouldn’t be a casket. Ellen had chosen to be cremated. She reached this decision during a casual conversation with her kids about what they want to have happen after each of them died. So, the family will be given the ashes, which they’ll go about spreading in places yet to be determined.

Which got Jen and I talking about our own wishes. Would we want to be sealed in a casket or an urn? Or spread out in the places we loved in this world? In the end I decided that I wanted the family that was left behind to do whatever would be most meaningful to them. If it helps them to have a tombstone to visit, then so be it. I’m thinking that I won’t much care at that point.

If I get to pick? At this point I’m leading towards being cremated and having my ashes scattered around. That way the family won’t have to maintain or feel guilty about not showing up at a graveside. And, maybe they’ll get closure from visiting spots that were meaningful to me. So far, only the Grand Tetons are a lock on that list.

How about you? Made up your mind about your final arrangements? If you were to be scattered, what spots hold that kind of significance for you?