Please Don’t Dress Me Up When I Die

Apologies in advance, for anyone who might be offended by my thoughts on death and the strict rules we seem to have regarding funerals. I mean no disrespect. I’m just — curious. WHY does there seem to be a dress code for death?

Please don’t dress me up when I die. I don’t want to go out wearing a dress and silk stockings when my preferred daily attire was a t-shirt and sweatpants. And please — no shoes! I can’t abide the thought of having to wear shoes for all of eternity!

I started thinking about these things recently, when a friend’s father passed away. She was wanting a suit for him, for the funeral. And it suddenly dawned on me — Why do we need to dress up when we die? I could understand if the man was someone who wore a suit every day. Someone who felt comfortable in a suit and tie, who wouldn’t think of going out in public without them. Maybe even someone who specified — “when I die, please bury me in my grey pinstripe.”

I know women who won’t leave the house unless they are wearing a dress, with their hair carefully styled and every curl shellacked in place. I remember a woman in our neighborhood who was never seen without her signature beehive hairdo and neatly pressed pantsuit. She would have wanted to be seen that way at her funeral too, I’m sure.

Years ago, I recall attending the funeral of a co-worker who was a bit of a free spirit and lifelong hippie. Her long gray hair was always worn in a single braid down her back, and she had a lively sense of humor. As we entered the chapel where the funeral was being held, my tears turned to laughter. Instead of the traditional, mournful funeral music, there was country western music blaring “It’s raining men, hallelujah!” Now there was a woman who knew how to exit in style! And I still smile, remembering that day, every time I think of her.

I think of funerals I have attended, and the remarks like “he looks so natural”, or “she looks so peaceful”. I want people to see me and laugh the slogan on my t-shirt, or smile because I look so — Me. So please — don’t dress me up when I die.

Donna (“Dee” to friends) Wylie is primary writer at ChiWow Media, and author of 9 books on Amazon, including her popular denture series, The 7 Stages of Teeth.

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