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Remains To Be Seen: What To Do With Your Remains

What to do with your remains after you’re dead? What to do, what to do. Well, of course, after you’re dead, you really don’t have to worry about it so much, but some people do think about this issue before they’ve departed this earthly plane.

The only other option to not worrying about it is never to die. I’m considering that one. Just haven’t worked out the logistics, yet.

I started this post a few months ago when a friend told me she’d gone to the Neptune Society for a sales talk on cremation. To this news I hooted and asked what she was doing with her spare time. She did not find this as amusing as I did. Then I considered doing the same thing in the interests of research for this blog post.

(I will have to edit that post in the link above to include research into what to do with your remains after you retire. Funny I didn’t think of it at the time I wrote it.)

Regardless, a sales talk on cremation has got to be comedy gold. I will look into it. That is my pledge to you.

Here’s a nice start:

what to do with your remains on chezgigi.com
From birth to death and beyond, right in your neighborhood strip mall.

Shortly after that conversation, on June 24th, suddenly and unexpectedly in the morning, shortly after awakening, Don collapsed and died. After almost two months, it is still difficult to write. It feels like it just happened yesterday, no matter how much time has elapsed. We had been speaking to each other from different rooms and he sounded cheerful and fine. Minutes later, I heard a crash, saw his feet and grabbed for my phone. I couldn’t remember how to dial it for a few seconds.

Within two or three minutes, a fireman ran into the house. The fire department is just a block away. Soon after, the paramedics arrived and worked on him for at least 30 minutes. There was no response at all. He was gone so fast, I still have trouble accepting it. I may always and forever have trouble accepting it.

He barely had time to enjoy living in the country in the “new” house, which is 112 years old. The day before he’d been out in the back trying to reunite two baby deer with their mother. She’d been trying to get a few minutes of peace in the field behind us–probably trying to pee alone–away from the kids and separated by a fence. He’d complained of a pain in his side and his jaw the night before, but not in a way that said he should go to the ER that minute. I told him we should go the next day so they could check him out and see if it was angina.

There are so many things to beat myself up about, I have trouble choosing which one to torture myself with from one minute to the next. Just realizing he should have gone for a check up at some point between November and June is enough. He had so many friends who died too young, one who had retired only a few years before he died. I had always thought that was so sad– to work so hard and then not have much time to enjoy it. Which is just what happened with Don, who had retired in 2019.

The universe sucks.

Regardless, there have been moments of levity. When I went to the mortuary, for instance. Mortuaries have their own catalogs. Realistically, this is perfectly reasonable, but it’s something most of us never think about. In the mortuary catalog I saw, there was an urn shaped like a motorcycle. That seemed reasonable, too. Might as well make your home in the thing that probably killed you. In fact, Don used to call them Murdercycles.

This is from Urns R Us. Yep, that’s what they named themselves.

My friend David Williams, of the many guest posts here, wondered if they offered a Chinese food take out box urn. That also seems reasonable, since Chinese food, compounded weekly over 50 years, might be a contributing factor in someone’s demise. Here’s a link to what this website claims are the “most popular urns.” Popular for whom? Hopefully not some hapless consumer whose friends and family are dropping like flies.

It feels very strange to be without Don. For one thing, there is no one to worry about me if I should come in late, or not at all. I’m spending this month in Vegas house sitting for a friend, so I come and go as I please, which means doing what I was doing before, only sometimes getting home later.

Brandon is at home, as are all the dogs, so I take comfort in that, although Honey and Pretty Girl have discovered a loophole in the fence and have taken to disappearing. Someone took a picture of them on Friday and posted it to Facebook. They were investigating the sidewalk in front of the post office. I feel so sorry for the dogs; they can’t understand why someone just disappears from their lives.

Pretty Girl came home almost right away, no doubt because it was too damn hot out there, but Honey had been picked up and taken to Animal Control, which wouldn’t open again until Monday. One woman thought they were mini cows walking by. When your dogs resemble mini cows, it’s time to put them on a diet, or start selling milk. And then fix the fence.

It’s blanket washing day. Oh, woe.

Our handyman helped secure the fence, and other than a hot walk to the vet for an updated rabies shot and a fee paid to Animal Control–like when they tow your car and then charge you to get it back–it all worked out and so far everything is back to normal at home.

A week or two after Don died, Brandon and I were driving home on the 395 on a moonlit night, very late. The roads were almost completely empty out of Reno heading north. The moon was at 3/4 and it was clear. You know what they say, a hunter’s moon benefits both hunter and the hunted.

Brandon was reading, and I was thinking about Don. Tears were streaming down my face. Suddenly, out from the side of the road, a rabbit jumped to its death under my wheels. There was no way to avoid it, but it was a horrible sound. I started crying even harder. I had finally calmed down a little when I saw something in the road ahead. I could see it was an animal, a young coyote making a meal of someone else’s road kill. I slowed way down and veered into the oncoming lane to avoid him. Instead, he turned to run and ran in front of me and under the wheels.

By now, I was hysterical. I felt like the Angel of Death slaughtering the innocent all the way home. Yes, indeed, that was just what I needed at that very moment. But to inject a note of optimism, I did hear something I needed to hear on the radio. I couldn’t use the cassette player–yes, I have an old car–because a cassette is stuck in it.

The radio still works, but there isn’t any reception except for a few AM stations. That night, I happened to pick up a Sunday night sermon from a well known pastor. He talked about there being a time for everything. That happens to be one of my favorite biblical passages. It coming when it did was very comforting.

And I’m thankful to report that while another bunny ran across the road from the left side, he did not have suicidal tendencies. Everyone made it home in one piece after that.


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35 thoughts on “Remains To Be Seen: What To Do With Your Remains

  • August 24, 2022 at 10:26 pm

    Do you remember me? I haven’t posted in quite some time. I used to tell you how cute I thought you were before I asked if you were married. I nipped that right in the bud. I am so sorry to hear about Don. I live in Tennessee. You spoke off-handedly about maybe traveling here with Don. Are you still interested? I am retired and have plenty of comforting time available to share. Do you remember that I told you, that you reminded me of Erma Bombeck? You liked her as well. Ironically, to me, this sad piece is one of your funniest. (Sometimes people are their funniest when they are grieving the most). I’m serious about the visit. You are welcome any time. Use my email address if you want to take me up on it. At any rate, I will pray for you.

    • August 24, 2022 at 10:41 pm

      Thank you, Ted. We all could use any prayers that come our way. Of course I remember you! I have all my comments stored on my dashboard and yours are still there. I recall you talking last time about homeschooling? How is that working out? It was quite an adventure when I was teaching Brandon. I try to forget the worst parts of it and just recall the fun.

      Being compared to Erma! Wow. I even entered the contest to be humorist in residence a couple of years ago. Lost that one. Do you remember the Mary Tyler Moore episode where she can’t stop laughing at Chuckles the Clown’s funeral? I wasn’t quite like that, but I can see the humor in a lot of this.

      We still have the RV and wanted to travel in it. I was making plans to drive up through Florida, visit the Great Smokies, and make our way back through the Midwest visiting friends. I would love to visit! I’m applying to work as a sub in Nevada and in California, since we are right on the border, and we might bring the RV down to the outskirts of Vegas or Kingman to boondock. I could drive into Henderson to sub. They are hurting for personnel right now, but subs are always busy anyway. We could close the house for a few months and save on bills.

      So, let’s put that in the planner! Thanks, Ted!

      • August 24, 2022 at 10:55 pm

        We probably should hide those details from public comment, so keep my email handy.

        Yes, I am still homeschooling my grandson, Silas, and I love it. He has also started piano lessons and is quite good. My first son taught himself how to play about a dozen instruments (after I paid for them of course). I was afraid the whole thing was a fad, but now he is a professional musician.

        I would be honored to meet you and your son, Brandon, whenever you find the time.

        • August 25, 2022 at 12:11 am

          How great! I had Brandon in piano lessons for a while, but just couldn’t afford it after a bit. If I’d tried harder, I probably could have figured something out. I think mainly I got tired of nagging him to practice. Silas is a very lucky boy. One on one is the best. We also had all kinds of perks in San Diego for plays, etc. It WAS a lot of fun. Maybe as much for me as for him.

          • August 25, 2022 at 1:19 am

            I don’t remember (no age jokes) you telling me you lived in San Diego. I lived in and worked for that city from 1977-1989. I lived in Ocean Beach (the only affordable one) and owned a gym for a while in Point Loma.

          • August 25, 2022 at 2:08 am

            I don’t think I ever mentioned it. Haven’t been back to visit in many years and I love the place. You were probably there when I was! I’d have to look at my transcripts to be sure, but I went to UCSD in the 70s. We lived there on and off from the time I was in the second grade in what is now the PB library. It used to be the Martha Graham Elementary School. I guess there aren’t many kids around there, now. We lived just a block or two from the beach. We had to cross Mission Bay Blvd to get there and it was a quiet street back then. It must have been not long after my dad retired from the Air Force.

            Later, I remember us living on a street called Monongahela. One of the few street names I recall from growing up. Just imagine how rich we’d all be if we still owned the houses we lived in or the cars we drove. Whew.

            My mother and I and my nephew lived there in the 70s, and he lives there still. So does my brother. He’s been there for at least 20 plus years.

            A gym, huh? That’s great. Owning a gym would be fun. Everyone interested in their health. Which most people in San Diego are anyway.

          • August 25, 2022 at 9:22 am

            I lived on Narragansett in OB, just adjacent to the pier. San Diego was conservative back then when I was a rebellious liberal. (OB was infested with hippies.) I always wanted to go back, but now, it has gone way to the left, and I am conservative. (If you aren’t a liberal when you’re young, you have no heart, but if you aren’t a middle-aged conservative, you have no head.) You made that transformation yourself, as I recall. The left seems to invade and ruin every nice place I have visited (Key West for one, Sitges, Spain for another.) Where I live, in East Tennessee, is still a refuge.

        • August 26, 2022 at 7:47 am

          Hi, Ted-
          My laptop went kerflunket last night, or I’d have responded sooner.

          Didn’t OB go Jarhead after that? That’s what my friends called the Marines.

          I don’t know about SD specifically, but CA seems to be evenly divided, too, politically. Modoc County, very rural, is red as well.

          • August 26, 2022 at 8:57 am

            I knew you would. Funny you should mention Jarheads. I spent 5 years in the Army at Ft. Lewis Washington. We conducted a training exercise at Camp Pendelton, which is (or was) a Marine training facility in California, not too far above San Diego. The exercise was on the beach in February. The weather was so nice that I decided to come back when I got out of the Army in 1977. There was still no Marine invasion by the time I left in 1989. However, there was an explosion of methamphetamine activity, and gang warfare. The rural population had just gone over 1 million, so it was time to get out.

          • August 27, 2022 at 7:17 am

            I think it still is. I passed by there once on the freeway and the hover jet was there close by. What is the name of that jet? It is so cool. It was in that movie with Arnold S about spies. The Harrier?

          • August 27, 2022 at 9:35 am

            Yes, also the Osprey. They were called V?STOL for vertical or short take-off and landing. I was fascinated with those, but I have never actually seen one. Pendleton was right across the street from Nixon’s home in San Clemente. Did you visit Laguna Beach on that drive? It was a very pretty town with art galleries and giant murals painted on buildings. Had my first chocolate chip cookie hot fudge sundae there.

          • August 27, 2022 at 9:19 pm

            Did you mean True Lies with Jamie Lee Curtis? I don’t remember the harrier in that movie, but I’ll go back and check it out. Jamie was really hot. She has not aged well though.

          • August 28, 2022 at 11:10 am

            That Harrier fighter plane shot was at the end of movie when Arnie saved his daughter and his wife with that plane. I was a teen when I watched that movie. I thought that was the most interesting part of the movie. And I become fan of Harrier ever since then. Even today, Harrier comes to my mind with True Lies. There’s something with our childhood days that leaves a lasting impression all our lives. I don’t even remember what I ate few hours back ‍♂️

  • August 24, 2022 at 10:27 pm

    Gigi, I’m so sorry for your loss. The past couple of months must have been a nightmare. If humor helps you grieve, then, write on my dear.
    “And the Seasons they go on & on, And the painted ponies go up & down. We’re captured on a carousel of time.” The Circle Game, Joni Mitchell
    All my best to you.

    • August 24, 2022 at 10:30 pm

      Thank you, Bets. I was just thinking about you the other day and hoping all was well with you. I never “see” you on FBook, so I don’t know. I remember that song. Brings back the 70s.

  • August 24, 2022 at 10:35 pm

    Oh, I am so sorry, Gigi.
    I know that words are of little comfort at this time, but know I am with you in my thoughts and prayers. You deserve peace.

  • August 24, 2022 at 11:02 pm

    What?? I’m so terribly sorry for your loss, Gigi . When did this all happen? You never posted that on Facebook. Sigh! I always wished to see him – at least in pictures and know more about him. I remember asking you once if he write as well but you said he rather loves reading. MOTH, as you used to say.

    I’ll pray for him and put some flowers in his name in the holy river here. I know how tough and hard it is for you. And I’m so sorry. Lots of love and hugs, Gigi. Please be well ❤️

    • August 25, 2022 at 12:08 am

      Luv! Thank you so much. I will think of those flowers and of you. That is so nice. And thank you for the prayers, honey. I know you know how hard it is. I hope you have done some healing yourself. How are your niece and nephew? Big hugs and thank you for the MOTH. Man of the House. :))

      I didn’t want to post it to FBook when it happened, Luv. It was just too much.

      • August 25, 2022 at 8:13 am

        Thank you, Gigi. Yes, I am healing but not really good. My mum is even worse. I’m afraid she is a bit mentally disturbed. Remember that I told you how that bastard (my sister’s husband) murdered my sister by weaponising COVID, stayed with us for six months to weaken our case and then took the kids away on the pretext of taking them for a regular medical checkup on November 8th, 2021? Ever since then, he and his entire asshole family never allowed us to meet the children. They are afraid that we would forcefully take the kids the way. And, sure, police too couldn’t register a case against us since the kids were taken by the grandparents where they were born and brought up. They abuse us and create nuisance and he even went to an extent of insulting us by forcefully asking us to leave the premises. Wow!! We finally had police help us meet the kids but they cannot handover the kids nor we could steal them in their presence.

        I remember you also advised to steal the kids which is what our advocates advised too and that if we could somehow take the kids away, they would take care of the rest. But those asshole bastards were long been in touch with their advocate and therefore never allowed us to meet the kids alone unless we had the police accompany us.

        But, according to the law, police too don’t have jurisdiction to help us meet the kids who are taken away by their father. They were helping us because they understood the entire case and knew the real criminal is the father and hai family. But they can’t do that for long and everytime. It’s a civil case for which court has to interfere. And therefore we finally moved to the court to get the custody of the kids and punish that bastard for murdering my sister.

        Sigh!! We are not criminal or have such background, Gigi. And therefore we never gathered courage nor had the audacity to steal the kids from them. There were few occasions when I dared to take the kids away but I was stopped.

        Regardless we have moved to the court and our case is strong. Just that I’m worried for the kids. My sister loved them so much. . She asked my mum to take care of them. She didn’t want to see her bastard husband in the last few days. I can vent on this forever, Gigi. This is just too painful.

        I always dreamt of meeting you and Don someday and have a dinner together and ride horse. His demise was shocking and I’m so sorry, Gigi. My heart goes out to you. I never get to know him but I hope you’ll tell more about him in your blogs. I’m really looking forward to knowing him. Send me his picture.

        • August 26, 2022 at 7:51 am

          Luv- what a saga that is. I don’t want you to ever get in trouble, but I hope it gets resolved in your favor. Or at least equal sharing of the children.

          In the States, they would automatically stay with their dad, too. Often, grandparents have sued to get visitation rights. I hope it works out, honey. XO

          • August 26, 2022 at 8:26 am

            Yes, Gigi. This is an unprecedented saga. All the people (including the police, ministers and other authorities) who we shared our story with, said that they had never heard anything like that in family matters. Most of the Indian family have mostly maternal parents help raise the kids. My mum stayed with her parents for five years when my eldest sister was born. The middle one (whose children that bastard took away) too spent most of her childhood with our maternal grandparents.

            Here, in our case, it’s just not the case of child custody case but a well planned murder of my sister as well. After speaking to many advocates, they all concluded it was pre-planned. Being a doctor himself, he planted COVID (by first contracting himself but started his treatment early) to my sister and deliberately delayed her treatment as to debilitate her condition to a point where things were out of the hand. Her lungs were already infected 25% by the time she was admitted to the hospital. And it was also not him but us who had her admitted. We were out of the city to attend the funeral of my grandmother (mum’s mum) who passed away due to COVID as well. After my sister informed us about her COVID infection, we directly rushed to her place and had her admitted. That bastard didn’t even tell her all those time she was COVID infected and it was him who contracted her the virus since he didn’t quarantine after testing positive. Given she had given birth to a baby just six months back and that she was pneumonic as well, her case was already weak.

            Everything else is a history, Gigi. Even in her critical case, she kept asking about her kids whenever she was conscious. Fought for 14 days. That itself tells that she wanted to live, Gigi . She had a lot of plans for her kids. Where to start and what to say. You know well how much a mother care for her kids. That bastard and his entire asshole family deserve to be punished and hanged.

            In India too, the law states father to be natural guardian of kids as well. But that is applicable only in normal cases. If the father is incapable to raise the children or is a criminal or or the court feels that kids couldn’t have a better upbringing in the wake of father marrying other woman (which is mostly the case if the father is young and kids are too small), the custody of the kids could be given to either of the blood relatives with father paying the maintenance. And due to cultural perspectives of India, it’s is usually believed that a woman’s blood relatives (parents and siblings) would naturally have more affection towards the kids over father’s blood relatives. I out care the kids were also born and living with us that works in our favour again.

            I have so much anguish and vengeance against that bastard and his asshole family, I want to go write over there and fight another battle of Plassey to be re-written in the history of India. But our advocates asked us to be patient for some more time. I hope it works out too, Gigi. I’m so worried for my little niece who is just like my sister – soft hearted and very sensitive. I am always worried for her and that how she is being treated by those devils.

            My parents did a very big mistake. They are to be blamed for arranger marriage and that too over online. Yes, it’s a new trend here from tha past 10 years or so to find bride and groom over online like online shopping. I’d never advise anybody to search bride or groom (especially) over online platform. Always go with advice and suggestions from friends and family if going in for arranger marriage. Else, love marriage is the way to go. Or even better, stay single forever. Your way or the highway.

            So, where are you know? Are you still in Alturas or moved back to Las Vegas? XOXOXO . I haven’t yet performed the ritual of putting flowers in Don’s name in the holy river here. But when I’ll do, I’ll take a picture and send it to you❤️

  • August 25, 2022 at 2:32 am

    As only you can say it.

    • August 25, 2022 at 2:35 am

      I meant to put in that Chinese food take out box dialogue you wrote and forgot. It was funny. Maybe I can still add it in, if I can find it.

  • August 25, 2022 at 7:20 am

    . . . . Sorry for your loss . . .

  • August 25, 2022 at 10:01 am

    I’m sorry that you lost your MOTH. My WOTH experienced a similar loss about 26 years ago. Her husband suddenly dropped dead on July 4th while playing basketball at a picnic. He was in his late 30’s.

    Just as a reminder, I’m the guy in Bakersfield who remarked on your somewhat unpleasant trip through Kern County several years ago.

    In one of your replies, you mentioned that you went to UCSD in the 70’s. I also went there, from 1972 to 1976. What was your major (if any)? Mine was Linguistics. Maybe we were in some classes together.

    Please let me know if and when you ever pass through Bakersfield. It would be fun to meet up.

    • August 26, 2022 at 7:58 am

      Hi, Craig! I remember that Kern County trip well, and I remember you remarking on it on Quora.

      Your poor WOTH! Only 30. Way too young. That happened to one of our football players in high school in the 70s. Only 18. You guys have been together since then, or thereabouts?

      I guess none of us are free from loss. And yes, send me an address or number I can text, and I will if we go through Bakersfield.

      My laptop is on the fritz, so I’m doing it this way

      • August 27, 2022 at 9:23 am

        I met my lady (now the WOTH) a few years after her husband died — in an AOL chat room. That was before internet dating became popular. She lived in Chicago, but she moved here. We’ve been together for 25 years.

        I’m somewhat of a dinosaur, because I don’t yet have a smartphone. I use e-mail and Facebook Messenger because my fingers and thumbs only work on full-size keyboards, not tiny texting screens — and I HATE making typos. Can you see my e-mail address on your site? The “reply” form asks for it. That’s the best way to contact me, unless you want to use FB Messenger.

  • August 25, 2022 at 6:26 pm

    Gigi, so sorry. Hugs. It’s always such a shock. At my age there’s way too much death lately. Both of a couple we’ve known for years and one brother in law. Take your time with any decisions. And take care if yourself.

    • August 26, 2022 at 8:00 am

      Thank you, Mary. I’m so sorry for your losses, too. Losing friends is almost as hard, sometimes harder.

  • August 28, 2022 at 1:16 am

    I’ve never seen Don’s picture before today! He was a catch Gigi make no mistake about that one! I can’t imagine your poor hearts ache right now. Life is fleeting and it’s inexplicable. Two days before mom died she was at home having trouble putting on her diabetic socks! She wasn’t the type to “Openly” gripe about it but since the household was in it’s usual morning rush we hadn’t yet noticed her frustrations. She’d been so sick, in so much agony. The strain was getting to her. She began sobbing then suddenly yelled out ,”No worries guys soon I’ll be dead and EVERYONE can get back to their routines!” All of us frozen and came running to help her! It made me feel awful. Two days later I was holding her hand in the hospital when a nurse gently explained she was gone. My mother’s words stung so much. She wouldn’t have ever wanted me to feel bad about something said in a moment of frustration. And believe me Don wouldn’t want you to feel bad about anything that’s happened. At least I presume that much about him. Otherwise you’d never married the handsome dude, right?? XOXO it’s okay. I promise


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