Just when we think we’ve seen or heard it all about death these days, there is more to learn, to love and to laugh at about the way people are impacted and/or reacting to life’s final moments. Funerals are lightening up, obituaries are good reads going viral, dying days sometimes feature celebrations with friends, people’s last wishes defy imagination.
A couple of things that have caught my recent attention may be of interest.
“They were dear friends and I just wanted to the extent possible be present at the service. … That was the best way possible. What I did was also send copies to the widows and children of these people so they would have copies of it, and all of them were most appreciative.” Now, Bob’s friend since kindergarten, through prep school, college and as best man in the wedding is in poor health in Mount Olive, North Carolina. “I frankly am expecting to hear about that (death) and of course I’ve been composing what I will say.”
“I thought about death a lot and this made me feel deep gratitude for the time I’ve had…but I struggle to maintain this perspective in my daily life.”
In just one day, Chang said, the wall was filled with answers to “Before I die I want to …”
… Be tried for piracy.
… Straddle the International Dateline.
… Sing for millions.
… Hold her – one more time.
… Be someone’s cavalry.
… Be completely myself.
… Live off the grid.
More instructively, as Chang explained, “Neglected space became constructive one and people’s hopes and dreams…consoled me during my own tough time.
“It’s about a space for contemplation and reflection and what matters most to us as we grow and change.”
Similar walls have now been made – with Chang’s help – in South Africa, Australia and Argentina among other cities. As Chang told her audience (http://www.ted.com/talks/candy_chang_before_i_die_i_want_to?languag...), “Two of the most valuable things we have are time and our relationships with other people. … It’s more important than ever … to remember that life is brief and tender.
“Death is something that we’re often discouraged to think about or talk about, but I’ve realized that preparing for death is one of the most empowering things you can do. Thinking about death clarifies your life.”
Susan Soper is the founder and author of ObitKit™, A Guide to Celebrating Your Life. A lifelong journalist, she was formerly the Features Editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where she launched a series called "Living with Grief" shortly after her father died. Susan lives in Atlanta with her husband.
Image via Ted.com/Candy Chang