Grateful Dead

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Good morning, my friends. I have my second cup of coffee, I’ve responded to your comments on other posts, and now I’m ready to hit you with something serious this morning. Yes, I’m afraid it’s necessary. It’s something you need to hear, and you may need to act on it right away, depending on your circumstances.

I’ve been writing lately about those who are less fortunate, who sometimes suffer so much that they want to take their own lives. They are hopeless, helpless and feel that being dead, stopping the pain, would be the best way out of a life that they see as torture and a burden that weighs heavily on them. They see death as a friend, or at least a business partner, and they welcome it too early.

The rest of us, bustling through our lives, working our jobs, raising our families, making our money, buying our stuff, don’t see death this way. We fear it. It is terminal, after all, and we don’t want this sweet ride to end. This time with children, grandchildren, traveling, learning, gardening, swimming, feeling the summer sun hot and good on our faces should never end for us.

We don’t welcome death. We push it away. We hide it under a big stack of fluffy plush towels. We put it in a cardboard box, tape it shut and stack it with the others in the garage.

Death is coming, my friends.

For some of you, soon. For others of you (and I hope to include myself in this group!) much, much later.

I’m going through a personal transition period in my life right now.

Part of that transition for me last week was redoing my last will and testament, power of attorney, and healthcare power of attorney documents.

Boy, the things that go through your head when you go through this process.

I thought of all the deaths I have experienced as a child, a teenager, a young man, a middle aged man. I, like some of you, have lost teachers, mentors, grandparents (all of them are gone), a father, a sister, close friends, acquaintances. The list is long. Too long.

I thought of the rest of my life. I will be fifty-six this October. I would love to live another thirty years. With the right mix of genetics, diet, exercise, stress reduction and avoidance of freak accidents, I might just make it.

I thought of what I will leave behind. No, no, not just physical things and money and stuff that folks can squabble over. My true legacy. What will it be? What will people say about me when I’m gone? Will anyone care that I’m gone? Will anyone miss me the day after I die? The week, the month, a year, fifty years after I die?

And of course, I thought about what the immediate aftermath of my passing will bring for my children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. The pain, of course, the pain is inevitable. The heartbreak of losing someone close, whether they are stillborn or lost as a child or pass sweetly and quietly in their own bed at home at age ninety, surrounded by those they love.

I thought about all of this and more as I rewrote my last will and testament and the other documents that may make it just a little easier for my loved ones to let me go one day, when it’s time for that. I told them how to deal with it, what to do, where I want to be when life is over, and how to accomplish it all with a minimum of fuss.

I hope they follow my wishes, and I think they will. I hope they lay me to rest simply, quietly, with a soft whisper, a silent tear, and a heartfelt prayer. Then, I hope they celebrate my life and what it has meant to me, and to them, with the joy that only the ones that remain behind can know.

Yes, my friends, this is heavy stuff, but necessary stuff. First things first today. It is Monday, after all.

Make a will if you don’t have one.

Write down how you want your final chapter to be written.

You don’t want to make your loved ones guess how the story was supposed to end.

Have a great day, and I’ll see you right back here tomorrow.

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6 thoughts on “Grateful Dead

  1. I remember Steve Jobs saying:

    ‘Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

    Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

    No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it, and that is how it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new’

    I always remind myself of this It encapsulates everything beautifully.

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  2. A few years before he passed, I got my dad to record some audio tapes about this for me and my sister – particularly though for me, as my memory is terrible – and on one of them he was appalled when I asked him what I should do – the technicalities and he said “you want me to tell you how to do all this?” But he did, and it helped a lot. He also organised most of his files and stuff so we wouldn’t have to wade through it all.

    While a Will is important, I think memories are more important – and remembering the person when they were well, too.

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  3. Aman,

    I like Steve’s quotes too, and he had a lot of them!

    We truly don’t have as much to lose as we think we do, so why get out there and get after it!

    Greg

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  4. Val,

    Of course I agree that the memories are the most important thing.

    That being said, I wish my dad had left some tapes or at least a road map of some sort. I felt like Indiana Jones doing an archaeological dig going through the many paper layers in his desk drawers and file cabinets. I was able to do it, of course, but it was not a very pleasant experience.

    I want o make it much easier for my kids when the time comes.

    Greg

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  5. I love the utmost concern put into this thought. We always need and could use good structure for great perspectives. I know I do. And for the comfort and ease that result, long life is the great reward. Good looking out. Thank you.

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