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?
2 thoughts on “How Do You Want To Be Remembered?”
It may seem cliché, but I want people to remember me as someone who cared about for others. This applies first to how I showed my incredible love for Rebecca. I hope it also shows how I cherished my relationships with family, friends, and colleagues.
Next, I want those who survive me to think of how I displayed hope in the face of incredible challenges. Most importantly, I want people to think of me as someone who held a strong sense of justice and placed considerable effort working to achieve it. For example, I want to be widely known as someone who fought the stigma and discrimination faced by people who struggle with mental illness by communicating what one person’s experience was like in living with Anxiety and Depression. I also want the life-long role I tried to play in ending homelessness to be evident.
Consistent with what I have already noted, I want to be remembered as someone who loved life and the things anyone can achieve if they put their mind to it. In other words, I want people to know that I believed my life and their lives matter.
I also want to be remembered as someone who cared about real food, real food production, and the many things people could do to promote it. On a personal level, I want to be remembered as an avid heirloom gardener.
Capturing much of what I’ve already noted, I want people to think of me as someone who lived according to my oft-written and said phrase, “Do justice and stay snazzy!”
This question got me to thinking about what it means to be remembered into the future, by generations beyond those who knew me personally. So far, I have not accomplished anything which would lead to that. So I feel content if I am occasionally thought of fondly by those who knew me.