If you haven’t already done so, then you need to add one thing to your 21 for 2021 list – writing a will.
Yes, I know we’re not supposed to talk about that.
A lot of people feel that talking about your death and your will and such things is like tempting fate, but let’s face it, those of us who aren’t vampires know we’re going sooner rather than later and, with this past year forcing us more than ever to face our mortality, let’s make sure we go the way we want and don’t leave our loved ones with the problem of sorting it out.
Sorting out your will is just the first step though. The second step is to think about your funeral.
I’ve got mine all planned out. Getting cremated is a priority. I mean, all these archaeologists going about digging up graves doesn’t make you think you’ll be resting in peace, does it?
Next up, the music. Sometimes I hear a song and think what a great funeral song it would make and I’ve put together my playlist:
- Stairway to Heaven, by Led Zeppelin, on the way into the crematorium.
- This Is the End, by The Doors, and This is the Last Song, Foo Fighters during the service.
- Light My Fire, another by The Doors, as the coffin goes through, erm, the doors.
- Highway to Hell, by AC/DC for something uplifting when the guests head out of the door.
Of course, I’m assuming there will be guests. Is that even guaranteed? Which leads to other questions – who will be there and should I care?
Feeding Our Basic Needs
One of the fears of many, perhaps even more than death itself, is that no-one will turn up to our funeral.
According to an article in Forbes, if you want to have a good old shin-dig happening, you’ve got to do something memorable. Be a good person, full of good deeds. Achieve something, have an impact on those around you.
The writer recounts the passing of a young man whose funeral lasts nearly two hours due to the number of people telling stories of the good deeds he had done. The place was packed with mourners and many others lined the streets. Certainly, his impact had been great in such a short time and seemingly he was very modest in his actions.
This article isn’t the only one telling us to create an impact. The advice from many a motivational speaker is to imagine your funeral. How do you want to be remembered? What will the people in your work, family and social life say about you if you gave that bucket a kick tomorrow?
This all feeds into one of our basic needs: to have significance, to be loved. Yes even the seemingly heartless soul who barks at everyone will be concerned with who is at their funeral. We seemingly associate the number of people at our funeral with how loved we were in life, how successful we were and what people think of us.
What’s The Alternative?
What if that isn’t the case?
I heard somewhere that on average, only ten people will be sad when you die. Many more people will be happy! Think funeral directors, florists, estate agents, lawyers, all trying to make a living. You may also have other examples…
It gets better. Well worse actually. If your funeral is on a rainy day, the number of people who turn up will be around half the number that would turn up on a sunny day. Humans, eh?
Yet we continue to be concerned with how many people will be at our funeral and what they will say about us.
Which is kind of crazy, right? Seeing as we’ll be, you know, dead.
Maybe, just maybe, it will depend on how good the weather is – and whether there’s a free buffet at the wake.
Instead of being so concerned with the other people, who might not even turn up to our funeral no matter what we did for them, why not be concerned with how you think of yourself IN LIFE?
As the Stoic philosophy of Marcus Aurelius says, live each day as if it were your last. Not being reckless, or without concern for others but knowing that you did what you believe needed to, acting each day according to your values, priorities and principles.
By doing so, you will have fulfilled your part. What other people think of you is none of your business. Trying to gain their friendship and approval will only lead you down a path of frustration – not everyone will like you no matter what you bring to the table.
We can’t all have an everlasting legacy. We aren’t all here to change the world. Sometimes, we’re just here to play a smaller part in something bigger. We may have a huge impact on someone we meet fleetingly, who won’t ever be at our funeral but remembers the small thing we did for them.
The young man from the Forbes article – was he concerned with who was saying what at his funeral or if they were going to be sad? I reckon not. He appeared to live according to his values.
Should you get your will done then? I suppose it depends on how you feel about that. If it fits your values to have all the business sorted out so someone else doesn’t have to deal with it then go for it.
In the end, it should matter to you how you decide to live. Once you’re gone, that can be someone else’s problem.
Funerals are for the living, not the dead.
Have you written your will or planned your funeral? Are you living your life according to your values or someone else’s expectations? Share in the comments section below.
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Until next time, remember, if the excess baggage is weighing you down, you can always leave it in lost luggage.