The saying “You can’t take it with you” is true enough, yet it doesn’t stop good-humored people from disregarding it for their own amusement, i.e. burying Mom, Dad, Sis, Bro, BFF, with various stuff from their life.

I just read a fun story about a 97-year old woman who told her daughter to “toss a few” plastic green bananas into her casket when the time came—something that had been a long-standing joke between them. And why the heck not? They’re enjoying the laugh together now, and once Mom’s gone, it will continue to make her daughter smile.

Perhaps I should be ashamed to admit this, I don’t know — but I once read a biography of a famous person and the only real detail I remember is that his family buried him with the TV remote control, ’cause he’d never let anyone else use it. And I now imagine there’s many a remote control in buried caskets the whole over.

I went on a tour of a crematory awhile back and the funeral director there said that more often than not families bring in personal items to go in the casket or alternative container for the crematory. Who knew this was normal?

But it makes me happy to know it, and kind of excited about the possibilities for people. It’s such a simple way to personalize and lighten-up the cold, rather stark experience of a corpse in a box.

I’m donating my bod so there will be nothing to bury, but I’m kind of sorry I won’t be able to take advantage of this. I swear, I’d come up with a stupid long list of things to bury me with just for the laughs. Pictures of my family, some of my mementos from Africa, a blanket my great grandmother knitted for me, a pair of my running shoes… not because I’m sentimental, and certainly not because I think it matters… on the contrary: because it’s so blatantly silly.

Because when we’re grieving, and everything feels so heavy and sad, so painful and crushing —whatever we can do to lighten a moment, bring a smile, or incite some laughter, is a welcome blessing.

Grief can be horrid. Finding ways to bring a smile is the fresh air in the despair of our loss.

It’s easy enough to decide when the time comes, but it’s also fun to think about ahead of time. What would you want thrown in your casket that might cause a grin, or even better—bursts of healing laughter?