I grew up in southern Ohio, but one of my favorite childhood memories is visiting family in Virginia every summer.
It was tradition every year for us to visit Goshen Pass — a creek nestled between the mountains in Rockbridge County. Even still, when I visit as an adult, I make it a point to visit Goshen no matter the weather. It has a very special place in my heart.
I decided a long time ago that I wanted a cremation. I’m sure part of that decision was because of my age — cremation is a popular choice for Millennials like myself. But a big part of that decision was because I wanted at least some of my ashes scattered in Goshen Pass, a place that means so much to me and a source of joy for so many years.
Like many people I know, my end-of-life plan was simply to be cremated and have my ashes scattered. That was all I needed — to be connected forever to places that mattered to me during my lifetime.
What I didn’t take into account is what my family might need when I’m gone. It wasn’t until I started working here that I started to think about the funeral experience from different perspectives.
Why I Think It’s Important to View Your Loved Ones
I’ve attended a few funerals in my lifetime, and I remember being very leery of viewing the body at first. Something about it seemed creepy and morbid to me.
But what I’ve realized is that the feelings I had during visitations were far from fear or discomfort. Seeing them one last time and being able to really take in the finality of their death lead to feelings of peace, comfort, and more importantly, closure.
There is something very powerful in being able to see a loved one for the last time and say goodbye. Their death might be the end of their life story, but it’s only the end of a chapter in yours.
Being able to have those final moments with them better prepares you for the following chapters, which will no longer have your loved one in them. Your story moves on, but your memories with them remain on the previous pages.
I’ve since changed my mind about direct cremation. Of course, I still want cremation and to have my ashes scattered in places I love — I have a small list of areas in mind, Goshen Pass being one. But rather than having my family cremate me and get it over with, I want them to have a viewing.
Whether it’s a rental casket, a full-blown casket, or just a cardboard box, I want to give my family the same opportunity I’ve had in my life to say goodbye. Giving them those last few moments with me could make all the difference in their grief, and it would be selfish of me to rob them of that opportunity.
Now that I’ve shared my story, I’m interested in hearing what your plans are for the end of your life. Let me know in the comments below!