Howard’s Divine Comedy: Canto 1

It’s time for the next installment of Howard’s Divine Comedy!

sunset-silhoueteThe Death Plan

Howard: Yo, Jerry, have you ever heard of a thing called a “Death Plan“?

Jerry Garcia: Can’t say that I have, Howie.

H: Um, Jer, remember I asked you not to call me Howie?

J: Oh yeah. Sorry, brother. Anyway, who in the world needs a Death Plan?

H: Well, easy for you to say, my friend. You’re already dead!

J: Gratefully, that is! [laughs heartily] See what I did there?

H: Good one. [rolls eyes] Listen, I’m gonna tell our readers about Death Plans right now, so here’s some cash, why don’t you make a store run for some Cherry Garcia?

J: Right on! [exits]

So, dear reader, a Death Plan is indeed a thing.

As is a “Death Doula,” less-alliteratively known as a “Death Midwife.”

(NOTE: More euphemistically and for the faint of heart, but at the cost of cowardice and two more syllables, “Death” may be rhetorically held at bay here by instead using the phrase “End of Life.”)

Now, parents of a certain age and wokeness will recognize doula and midwife as terms related to childbirth, and the idea here is that death is another kind of birth. Just as we’re born from the womb into the world, it could be said that we are born from life into the afterlife.

The Death Doula/Midwife, then, supports the dying person, their family, and their friends through this passage, and the Death Plan is created ahead of time to stipulate and help implement last wishes. Just as a Birth Plan might include the mother’s preferences concerning where and how she gives birth, the Death Plan will dictate who will be with the person at the time of their passing, how this time is to be spent, details concerning burial or cremation, whether there’s to be funeral or memorial or a blowout party, etc.

The beauty of a plan like this is that, without one, all of these to-do items and decisions would just follow me around, nagging me, producing stress. With the plan in place, however, I’ve taken care of business so that the only thing I need to do is show up, and that’s a rather non-negotiable fait accompli.

So, I found a doula, she’s lovely, and here’s an outline of the plan content to give you an idea of the scope and the kinds of decisions I need to make.

Before Death

  • Place of death
  • Who will attend?
  • Who will support?
  • Environment/Ambiance
  • Meds/Pain control

Post Death

  • Preparing the body
  • Ceremony/Ritual
  • Transportation
  • Deposition of the body
  • Funeral/Memorial
  • Obituary


Perhaps fittingly so, the phrase “deposition of the body” is where my mind turns to mush, for there are few things quite as humbling as thinking of your corporeal form as a lifeless sack of bones, flesh, organs, and blood vessels. Hell, I feel guilty if I don’t clean the kitchen after making dinner, so it doesn’t feel very good thinking of the mess I’ll leave behind when I finally evacuate the body I’ve inhabited for 56 years.

Here, then, is my official pre-emptive apology: Sorry!

At least there will be instructions in the plan!


4 thoughts on “Howard’s Divine Comedy: Canto 1

  1. Erlichman Lori Jo September 6, 2020 — 8:37 pm

    I did the “preparation of the body” for a woman at the temple and it was very gratifying to be able to do this last thing for a lovely person. It was strange and beautiful and felt a lot like bathing a baby. I was honored to be asked.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like this as a way of taking control, approaching that point on your own terms.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey Howard! Lori Jo sent me the link to your beautiful blog. I’m slowly catching up on it, in a reverse fashion. So much to take in. Beyond words, I appreciate the courage you possess toward sharing this experience!


    1. Hi Randy! Thanks so much for your kind words and for taking the time to read my stuff. 🙏🏼🧡✌🏼


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