From The New Humanist (UK)
Rationalists and secularists in the old plain style were very clear about death and dying, or at least they tried to be. “It’s just a nothing,” they would say: “the lights go out and then the curtain falls.” I won’t exist after I die, but then I didn’t exist before I was born, so what’s the big deal? It’s going to happen anyway, so just get over it. We are only forked animals after all, and when the time comes you should give my body to medical science, or burn it and use it as fertiliser; or why not eat it, if you’re hungry, or feed it to the pigs? And for goodness sake, don’t worry about how I died – whether peacefully or in pain – and don’t speculate about my last thoughts, my last sentiments or my last words. Why attach more importance to my dying moments than to any other part of my life? As for the business of seeing the body and saying goodbye, and the trouble and expense of coffins and flowers and funerals: what are they but relics of morbid superstitions that we should have got rid of centuries ago? So no fuss, please: the world belongs to youth and the future, not death and the past: go ahead and have a party if you must, with plenty to drink, but no speeches, nothing maudlin, no tears, nothing that might silence the laughter of children. And I beg you, no memorials of any kind: no stones, no plaques, no shrines, no park benches, no tree-plantings, no dedications: let the memory of who I was die with me.