The New York Times recently ran a story about a woman upset with her husband's burial plans. In short: he didn't want one. His wish? To live forever.
No. Robin Jackson hasn't found the mythical Fountain of Youth, but he is interested in what he considers to be the next best thing: cryonics. In short, he wants his brain to be cryonically frozen in the hopes that—someday—medical science will have developed enough for his brain to be resuscitated, and placed in a new body. His wife Peggy, meanwhile, a hospice worker, spends her days helping those related to the sick and dying arrive at a place where they can let go, and end their loved ones' suffering. She sees her husband's desire to remain alive at any cost as selfish and incredibly perplexing. Those involved in the world of cryonics, however, find her unwillingness to honor her husband's last wishes akin to the withholding of medical treatment.
What we find interesting, in addition to the fact that this man wants to Forever Young himself (because you remember how well that worked out for Mel Gibson's character, right?), is that this came up in conversation at all, and while they were still dating, no less. Because, while we believe that there are a number of things you should know about your partner before taking the plunge into lifelong commitment, when it comes to mortality, most couples typically concentrate on retirement planning, Roth IRAs and eventual relocations to Florida. 9 Secrets A Healthy Couple Shouldn't Keep
But should we be discussing death?
After all, the issues that sneak up on you near the end of life are heavy ones: end-of-life care (nursing home, assisted living, moving in with the kids, etc.), compassion fatigue that comes with caring for a sick spouse, whether to be buried or cremated... and for interfaith couples, sharing a burial plot isn't even an option. Not only that, but could the issue of a final resting place be just as important as religious faith? In the case of the Jacksons, it certainly seems to be. Are burial preferences another secret healthy couples shouldn't keep? Are You And Your Partner In Sync Spiritually?
And would you support your spouse's bizarre burial request? Would you rather know about his desire to be preserved or cremated before saying "I do"? Or should the afterlife be an afterthought—at least when it comes to your physical remains—when there is so much to be dealt with in life?
And... out of curiosity... where do you stand on the issue of cryonics? Would you refuse your spouse his request for eternal life?