Having Fun Planning My Obituary

I see dead people’s molecular structure

Screen shot 2015-03-26 at 5.14.23 PM


Like many people who make it to the late autumn, early winter part of their lives, dying becomes a more conscious thought.  Naturally this entails a routine visit to the obituary page in the local newspaper.  Most of these obits will invoke the Christian hope or belief of an afterlife from expectations set early in life.  I always enjoy reading some of the more creative versions that describe the passing of this life to the one beyond.

The deceased:

“went home to be with the Lord after passing away unexpectedly”

“was welcomed into the warm and loving arms of his Savior Jesus Christ”

“joined the angels in heaven”

“Entered the Heavenly Gates”

“has been guided by her Heavenly Father to a blessed family reunion”

There is comfort I suppose for those who remain to know that the deceased is in someplace warm and friendly rather than the cold, dark earth their bodies are deposited to.  I too like the idea that there is something after this life and rather than simply let people know I have “passed” I would also like my obit to inspire a sense of forever-ness, where we become more than worm food when our number’s up.  But I don’t want to wound up in a place described by evangelical pastor A.W. Tozer that is little more than Sunday worship service on a grand scale, twenty-four seven.

Not a fan then of the traditional Christian view of life after death, my obit will be a bit out of the ordinary.  Much has been written in a non-religious narrative about a spiritual interconnection humans feel with not only other cultures, present and past, but with the earth itself and even the vast reaches of the universe.  It is this notion that got my attention and seems logical when you realize that all life forms are composed of carbon atoms.

Screen shot 2015-03-26 at 5.15.25 PMWhen our bodies decompose or are reduced to ashes we rejoin those elements outside of a bodily or otherwise structured form.  We become adrift in space and time and could ultimately manifest ourselves in some other form, becoming the seed, or in some cases, the manure of life elsewhere, be it here on this planet or somewhere beyond the stars.  Life never-ending, just not in the limited imagination of the Bible people.

So here’s my contribution to the Obits page.  May that day not come a day sooner nor a day later than my entire being is ready for it.  No sense though in not having a little fun with this since it’ll be the last thing I’ve left people to remember me by.

Larry Norman Beck transcended corporeal life today.  Being cremated it was his hope to have his ashes cast to the wind and become a part of the “mysterious realm” William Cullen Bryant referred to in Thanatopsis.  The earth that nourished him has claimed him once again.

“To mix forever with the elements,
To be a brother to the insensible rock
And to the sluggish clod, which the rude swain
Turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak
Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mold.”

Being transformed to our origins as carbon atoms Larry expects to become part of the life in its various forms be it human, animal, plant or mineral.  Perhaps if the winds and atmospheric pressure conditions are right he will pass into the solar system and beyond, to another universe yet discovered by Earthlings, waiting in some form for them when their space ship lands.

I’m considering stealing an idea from the entertainer Prince and calling myself “Ω” in my post-Earth life, or do you think that might be too weird of an idea?

“All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.”Walt Whitman


Ask A Physicist To Speak At Your Funeral

17 responses to “Having Fun Planning My Obituary

  1. Love it. I think I’d say much the same thing, maybe only perhaps adding, has been absorbed back into the Gaian for a while… for consultation work

    Have you seen the short essay, “You want a physicist to talk at your funeral”?

    • “I think I’d say much the same thing, maybe only perhaps adding, has been absorbed back into the Gaian for a while…”

      That’s the ticket John.

      Just found that essay and I’m attaching it as a Related Article to this post. Thanks

  2. Prince sounds too much like a dog’s name. How about Exalted One?

    And, as I used to tell my chemistry students: “Atoms are immortal. They just keep getting recycled. In fact, you have atoms in you that used to be parts of dinosaurs. (I won’t tell you which parts).”

    This is one of the reasons I refuse to be buried in a hermetically sealed casket. It merely delays the return of my atoms to the fold. And why would one not really want to mix in the afterlife?

    Brilliant, Larry. I may just adapt your obit to write mine!

    • Actually I was using the “Ω” symbol as my name kind of like Prince when he used a symbol for his name and introduced himself as the entertainer formally known as Prince, because no one knew what the symbol was and thus couldn’t pronounce it.

      ” I may just adapt your obit to write mine!”

      Be my guest. Maybe between you, John and me we can start a movement. 🙂

  3. I’m more or less of the mind of this guy.

    Just leave my corpse on my front lawn. Watching me rot may teach the kiddies a valuable life lesson, provided they can pry themselves away from their devices for long enough to see the crows pulling the eyeballs out of my skull. Maybe I’d like a sign put up beside my corpse, “This will be the summation of all your pathetic, miserable, wasted, lives.”

    To be honest, few people alive today are really worth more alive than dead. Becoming compost may be the most useful point in most North American’s existence and certainly the most selfless.

  4. I too read the obits daily, mainly to see if any of my peers have died. I like your obit. When do ya plan to have it published?

  5. On a whim, I googled funny obituaries and came up with, ‘Betty Crocker dead at 88; rich but no longer moist.’
    I think you’ve inspired me for a whole new post, Larry. Hope you don’t pop your clogs for a very long time.

    • I’ll bet there are some witty obits out there for real. Maybe you can compile some of the funniest ones for us Elaine.

      Thanks and I too hope to be here a few more years yet

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