The father of a close friend of mine just passed away, at age 85. He wanted to have his body donated to science, but his family is going to have him cremated. Many of them want a religious service - plus, their grandmother apparently donated her body to science for cancer research, and some of the family members are still sad that they don't have anything to remember her by and upset for religious reasons. They're religious and the father is an atheist, so they're ignoring his wishes and doing what they want, rather than what he specifically told them he wanted, when he was of sound mind. I think that's wrong. My friend would probably go with what he knew his father wanted, but doesn't feel strongly enough about it to argue. The family really has no clue what atheists are.
I have a happier problem, or will at some point down the road. My mother was an Episcopal deacon and was devoutly religious (I say "was" devoutly religious because she has some dementia, and has simply lost interest in church as she has in so many other things that used to matter to her, despite my efforts to keep her engaged in them). She wrote everything up 15 years ago, how she'd like the service to be, and all that. She has a spot in the columbarium at her former church halfway across the country, next to where my dad's ashes are inurned. Her ashes are supposed to go next to his.
We were talking about it after my friend's father died, and I reminded her that she had written down exactly what she wanted to have happen. She surprised me by saying, " I won't be there, and your father isn't there in person, so you can do whatever you want. It might be cool to have my body donated to science so it's useful for something, since I won't be needing it. I really don't care either way." I'm obviously paraphrasing, but you get the gist.
I was floored. But .. my view is, she was of sound mind when she chose to be inurned next to my father's ashes, and she wanted a religious service. So, although I don't think it matters in the least what happens to a person's body, since she says it's up to me, I'm going to stick with her choices as she wrote them years ago. Personally, I think her new view makes more sense (and would be a lot less hassle for me - arranging a funeral halfway across the country, with nobody I even know there, no family there other than her former priest whom I adore, and nobody to stay with) - but that's where she said she wanted to be. Those were her wishes back when it really mattered to her. Just because the dementia has robbed her of much of her "give a shit" mode, that doesn't negate the things she used to feel strongly about.
Too bad some of the people in my friend's family don't have the same sense of obligation, and they had to put their personal religious beliefs into the equation.
What about when you die? What do you want to happen? Will your family actually make that happen? Would you care if they didn't? (While I'd prefer to have my body donated to science so it might be useful, I really don't care - I just feel I need to make a choice so someone else isn't stuck with making it).