Post-mortem cosmetic needs

I want all the self conscious girls who try to hide who they are with makeup

You know it’s the girl with a frown with the tight pants

I really want to shake up

–Louis XIV/Finding Out True Love Is Blind


The other night, a couple of us were talking about the importance of looking good while dead or dying. It’s not the first time I’ve discussed how I want to look while dying or dead with a girlfriend, and it probably won’t be the last. It’s something a lot of us think about with some regularity. Women often have very particular ideas about what we want to look at the end of our lives. Maybe men do, too, but they don’t typically wear cosmetics so they probably aren’t as picky as we are.

At my grandmother’s viewing, my aunt had her brother and me act as lookouts so she could fix her mother’s make up in the coffin without being busted by the funeral director. She just didn’t think her mother looked like herself with the wrong shade of lipstick on, and she was right.

My friend Mollie wants to attend her own funeral wearing tan fishnets, lipstick  and false eyelashes. Presumably also some sort of dress, but that was not her priority. She’s got a cat suit that would make quite an impression at a viewing. I’ll suggest that.

I want a bob and black eyeliner to be maintained for me if I’m ever physically unable to keep them up myself. If hair is a problem, you can shave my head and put dramatic scarves on me but the eyes have got to be done.  Have me cosmetically tattooed if no one wants to come over every day and do it. It’s not that I’m vain about my looks in general, but I feel very strongly about having eyeliner on.  Always. People won’t know me without it. While you’re doing the eyeliner, prop a book up on me somewhere too. After I’m dead, send me to the crematorium with my eyeliner on. I won’t care after that.

Is this an insane thing to worry about? Well, it would be if you actually spent time worrying. I enjoy thinking about it.  To me, it’s sort of reassuring to know that my friends know how I expect to look so they can yell at my caregivers if they fall short of perfection. Sort of like Shirley MacLaine in “Terms of Endearment” when poor cancer-stricken Debra Winger doesn’t get her pain meds on time.


There’s nothing like a big yelling scene in the hospital to make me feel loved!