I know you don’t want to talk about this.
But there are some things I need you to know.
If I die, take me home to my bed and hold my hand; cuddle me like you’ve always done, as if bringing me down from a meltdown; if you can, please dress me, just you, only the few hands I trusted to touch me in life breaking through my bubble in death.
If I die and my body is intact, let them take my heart, my lungs, my liver, my kidneys, my corneas; I always wanted to change the world, so let them take what they need to change the world for one, or two, or three people.
If I perish in an accident, be it car or trip or falling piano, let them take what they can; once they are done, shake your head and giggle (because there is a scientifically proven 89.6% chance the accident will be my fault) whilst telling stories of the two left feet that danced me unceremoniously into a hilarious end.
If I die from disease, surround me with pictures of a healthier version of myself; put a soft toy in my arms as I slip away; don’t let them sculpt my face after my death, don’t let them sew shut my eyes and mouth; remember me as I lived, but also as I died, as they are both a part of my story.
If my life is taken by another person, be angry but do not let it consume you; let your anger fertilise the soil of change; let your anger be red, and awesome, and beautiful.
If I am killed because of my queerness, throw the sparkliest street party you have ever thrown; drape the walls with rainbow flags and blast out the cheesiest gay anthems until the windows of houses ten streets down shake with fabulous rage.
If I am killed because of my disability, don’t let them erase my neurodiversity; raise my image up with the word ‘AUTISTIC’ outside the Houses of Parliament; chant my name until it rings in their ears, and let them leave with the showreel of my death whirring in their minds.
If I am killed because I am a woman, add my name to a list of thousands and make sure every single one of us is seered into the eyes of those who would forget us.
If I die at the hands of self-proclaimed ‘Islamists’, take flowers to the local Mosques and tell them that I love them; stand firm in the face of those who would use my death as a weapon of hate; wrench my picture from their hands, and websites, and minds; tear it into a thousand pieces and blind them with the confetti.
If I lose my life in protest of the things that light a fire in my belly, let them know that I am victorious.
If, in some awful spiral of fate, I take my own life, reach out to the other people teetering on the edge and pass them this message: I deserved to live, and so do you.
And, however I die, wrap me in a biodegradable shroud and bury me straight in the ground, so that I can finally be a part of the world that I have never managed to understand.
There are many things that led to me writing this: mainly a mixture of the build up of inescapable newsworthy events, and my discovery of a death-positive activist, author and YouTuber called Caitlin Doughty. Her work on getting people to confront death, to talk about death, to get closer to death, and to take a greater role in the care of the dead, has been a revelation to me. I would urge you to read her book, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From The Crematory, and take a look at her YouTube channel, Ask A Mortician, for more information.