Designer Dying

05 Dec Designer Dying

I have no memory of coming into the world, but I imagine making your way through the birth canal is even more of a struggle than squirming out of a serious girdle. If post-menopausal sex is thought to be challenging, it seems unrealistic to expect something 7 or more pounds to navigate through that space. On the other hand, everything after that must feel quite do-able. My son decided he wasn’t even going to try, which we only understood after 24 hours of what was called “non-progressive labor. That’s when the doctor performed a Caesarian. I couldn’t argue with our son’s hesitation, respecting that he trusted his own judgment and was letting us know even before he learned to use his words that maybe he knew better. That healthy self-confidence may be one reason he’s well suited to being a litigator.  


Coming and going are very different, however, when we’re talking about life. Going generally provides more options. Some of us get to pick if we want to prolong our stay or opt for pain-relieving medications. We can decide if we would prefer being cremated or buried, and even get to participate in our own memorial service. My husband and I recently attended an event to say goodbye to our beloved friend, Jack. Upon learning that his days were numbered, he went into party planning mode, in consultation with his wife, choosing where it would be, who would be speaking, and prepared the invitation list. He also helped edit the film that was shown. It’s why we all felt it was as if Jack was present. Similarly, when my brother was dying in hospice, he lit up when I suggested he dictate what he’d like to say to family members for me to read at his funeral. Everyone was touched. In both cases, the men appreciated having control of the services. If there’s an opportunity, I recommend this.


Because I design customized urns (, I’ve given considerable reflection to how to make dying a more personal and acceptable experience. I encourage everyone to try to think outside of the box.