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<p>When You Are Dead
September 29, 2016
Have you ever tried to imagine your own memorial service, or the obituary that announces
it? What will people say about you, and how will they feel about the person you have been.
We have all seen movies and read books in which the chief conceit is that the main character
gets to visit the world after his death and see the feelings and memories left behind. Of
course, in fiction, there is always another chance – an opportunity to right wrongs and
change course so as to change that fateful outcome. And most fictional protagonists choose
to undertake a moral pivot in order to redeem themselves and their legacies.
In reality, most of
us have remembered or what mark we
will leave on the world. The closest approximation is probably available in those treasured
moments of intimacy with loved ones, especially family. But as to else might be in
attendance at the memorial or what they might say over the water cooler once our bodies
have chilled …well, it’s sort of up for grabs. But the exercise of asking yourself what will be
left behind you when you’re gone needn’t be morbid and in fact, can be extremely
powerful. That question can prompt an inquiry that we can use to guide us in being the kind
of person we want to be and in choosing how to spend our time, resources and energy while
still very much alive.little idea how we will be
I was thinking of my best friend, Gloria, who died unexpectedly a couple of years ago.
Whenever I think of her I remember all of the moments in which she said something so
insightful, and so novel, that it changed me and transformed my thinking. I recall
conversations we had in which I started out feeling hopeless or frustrated, and she was able
to conjure a way to re-contextualize whatever circumstances I had so as to give me an avenue
to generate joy, aliveness and hope. I remember how known I felt around her. That legacy
outlives her body and transcends the limitations of a single human life. Of course, for me,
she has l