Does It Matter How Long We Are Remembered?

It is comforting to think that after we die, we will be remembered by others still living. But if we aren’t, what does that mean?

While human life spans have increased — in fact, more than doubled — in the last century or two, life is still exceedingly short. No one has managed to live past a hundred and fifty years old.

The way to immortality, then, is through our legacy. The children we raise. The work that we did that survives us. The stories and memories that continue to live on.

This is a common message through media. Emotional movies tug at our heartstrings, with characters saying that they feel the presence of a loved one. It is a common theme, understandably, at memorial services.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘What gives a person value?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘What makes you you?’


There are humans who have such an impact that they survive in our collective memory. It is usually through a discovery or artistic creation or a momentous feat of some kind. We know the name and achievements of someone who lived a thousand years ago. It would be nice if we were to have such an impact that we would be remembered or celebrated for hundreds or even thousands of years.

But would it really? It really makes no difference to you, after you die. Your death is not made better or happier if your name goes down in history.

Isn’t it more important to live your life in a fulfilling way right now? The future is uncertain at best, and won’t, barring unforeseen increases in human lifespans, include you?

Alternately, if you are not remembered, or only remembered for a short span of time, did your life, your existence, really mean anything at all?

Does it matter how long we are remembered?

Related questions: What gives a person value? Why are people afraid of death? What would you say to people in the future? How do you want to be remembered? Should we be concerned with legacy?

What Should You Let Go Of?

In order to grow, sometimes it is necessary to let go of a memory that is holding you back. Can you think of any such event in your life?

The New Year offers a convenient opportunity for introspection. During that period of self-examination, it is possible that you will realize that there are memories of events or people that are preventing you from realizing your potential.

There are many such traumatic or painful instances that you might obsess over. For example, your relationship with someone may be a cause of anxiety. Or you might regret a thoughtless action that you took without thinking.

The ability to let go, or move on with your life under such circumstances, can be very important. Obsessing over the past isn’t likely to be helpful or productive.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘What beliefs do you have that might be wrong?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘What makes a place feel like home?’


But what does it mean to “let go”? In one instance, it might mean to forget about something entirely. Rather than replay a conversation over and over in your head, it might be better to relegate it to the past.

In another, it might be acceptance. If you come to terms with something that brings you emotional pain, it may be possible to accept it and move on.

It might also mean, literally, letting go. Throwing away a thing that has outlived its usefulness can be very meaningful.

At any rate, it is normal for human beings to be faced with regret over past speech and actions. Can you think of regrets of your own, ones that you would be best served to let go of?

Related questions: What mistake taught you the most? Are there beliefs about yourself you’ve had to let go? How do you learn? What can you control?

What Impact Do You Think You Have On Other People?

It makes sense that as we go through life, others have an impact on you. It is also true that you have an impact on them as well. How?

It is only natural to think primarily about yourself. You have wants and needs, and meeting them takes up a majority of your time and effort.

However, it is beneficial to think about other people occasionally, as well. You might consider how other people feel, and what they might need or want.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘What are our responsibilities to others?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘Are we too busy?’


One thing that you may not have considered is what effect you might have on the people around you.

It is pretty easy to understand the impact that people around you have on you. A teacher might inspire you. A bad driver can frustrate you. Someone who flirts with you may bring excitement, and so on.

However, what about the reverse? What do your actions, your example, your conversation mean to the people you come into contact with? Do you inspire, frustrate, or flirt?

And as a corollary, might you change the way you interact with people, to try and bring about different reactions?

What impact do you have on other people?

Related questions: How do you think others see you? How do you want to be remembered? What have you done that was inspired by someone else? Have you ever had a mentor? Been a mentor?

How Do You Want To Be Remembered?

Imagine that you are Tom Sawyer, able to attend your own funeral. What would you hope to see and hear from those in attendance? How would you want to be remembered?

There are at least two different reasons to think about this question.

The first is to help others that survive you after your death. If you think about — and write down in detail — what happens after you die, you can save your loved ones a lot if guesswork. Everything from what to display at your memorial service to your final resting place, from DNR orders to organ donation, you can outline your wishes.

For grieving loved ones, that effort could be very comforting. Not only would your wishes help to relieve a source of potential stress, but it is almost a way of communicating after you are gone. Your request might seem like a voice from beyond, comforting your loved ones as they deal with emotional turmoil.

Even more important, however, is how thinking about how you will be remembered will help you. Thoughts of what you hope will live on after you can help to set your priorities while you are still alive.

For example, if you want people to think of you as generous, the best way to make that happen is to increase your generosity. If you want to be remembered for being a good parent, you may want to spend more time with your children and less time at work. If you hope that you are thought of as well-read, you can achieve that by committing to reading more.

In that way, what lives on after you can be seen as a mission statement for while you are alive. Your hoped-for future self can serve as an aspiration for the current you.

Have you given any thought to what will happen after you die? Do you know if you will be buried or cremated? Can you imagine which pictures and which mementos you want people to see at your memorial service? Is there something you want to be said in eulogy? And how might the answers to these questions impact what you do today, or in the days and years ahead?

Related questions: What would you say to people in the future? Should we be concerned with legacy? Why are people afraid of death? How do you plan for the future? Burial or cremation?

 

Forgive Or Forget?

When someone wrongs you, often the advice is to “forgive and forget”. Is one of those two things more important than the other?

Share why if you wish.

Forgive Or Forget?