When I was a young boy I spent some years in the Boy Scouts, which is a survivalist organization that trains young men on how to live in the wilderness. As well as teach them other life skills. When the leaders weren't around we kids would sing songs that, naturally, were deemed by our elders as, "gross." You know how kids are. The one that comes to mind today is something called, "The Hearse Song" which is about death and stems from the 19th century when it was documented among British soldiers serving in the Crimean War. Here are the full lyrics as I learned them:
You may be the next to die.
They wrap you up
in a bloody sheet
and drop you six feet
The Worms Crawl In,
The Worms Crawl Out,
Into your stomach,
And out your mouth.
They eat the jelly between your toes.
A big green worm with rolling eyes
crawls in your stomach and out your eyes.
This is how
It is to die
You end up looking
Like apple pie!
That's the way Buddhism sees it too--not as a curse but definitely as a fact of life to come to terms with sooner than later. That's because we're all dying from the minute after we take our first breath as a fresh and snappy-skinned baby. Buddhism teaches us that death is nothing to be feared because it is just another change in the many changes leading up to it. As another online writer says it, "It is the temporary end of a temporary problem." Now, some think that contemplating upon death is depressing, leads to despair and suicidal thinking.
Actually, in my own experience, (and from that of others who have embraced death and come to terms with its reality) it opens one up to live with less suffering. When you realize that death could come at any minute then you truly understand how precious each present moment really and truly is. This has allowed me to savor and enjoy life on a much deeper and profound level. This blunt assessment of death and suffering isn't nihilism but a pragmatic acceptance of life as it is, and not how we want it to be.
As for the specifics of death, I personally find the way we deal with death in Western culture to be a bit silly. We buy dressy, expensive clothes to wrap our dead shell in, which are quickly going to rot away. Then we buy a really expensive, fancy, box that we're only going to use once. We fill it with our finely dressed, bag of bones, which we promptly bury in our bejeweled box under six feet of dirt. And we do this in a fancy park that could be used to house homeless instead of rotting bags of flesh. As if all that isn't enough to stroke our egos we top it all off with an intricately etched headstone proudly stating our name. Or, rather the name of the body.
According to Buddhist standards our name, and that body are long expired the minute our last breath escapes. In fact, our name is pretty much meaningless while we're living as well!! Some people are so attached to their lives that even after death they even want a fancy house (mausoleum) to surround and protect their buried box!! They don't want their "special bones" sitting next to the bones of some lowly, average citizen!!
Upon my death, I just want my body cut up and pieced out to use in helping sick, yet living bodies live longer, healthier lives via organ donation. I highly support organ donation by the way. If there is anything left I simply would like the rest of it cremated and have my ashes spread around, so that perhaps other living things can benefit from it. Or possibly the sky burial they do in Tibet if I could find a way to get away with it. Or perhaps just take my stinkin' pile of bones up into the mountains I love so much and prop me up against a tree to serve as compost for flowers and mushrooms and such. If all else fails just donate my bag of bones to science. So, sing, "The Hearse Song" and enjoy this present moment.