In the past three months, I’ve gone to two funerals. They have a way of forcing you to think about your own life and death.
One was a good friend, one was my grandfather. One lived a long life, the other’s was cut too short.
Sometimes I lie in bed thinking about my own death. I imagine it’s the last time closing my eyes, and think about what the experience will be like, and what I’ll leave behind. It scares the crap out of me, so I don’t do it often, but I do it enough to constantly remind myself of my own mortality.
When you’re young, you don’t think about death all that much. I live and act as though I’ll have 10,000 more tomorrows. But I may only get 10 more. I’ve certainly done more than friends passed away in high school and college
While we’re living, we think about what will achieve or accomplish in life – our life purpose. What matters in death, though, is what leave behind for others – our legacy.
The things I’ve done, especially for myself, won’t mean much when I’m gone. What’s going to matter is the people and the world I leave behind.
Are people better off because of me? Are people more loving, generous, and compassionate because of me? Is the world (or at least my corner of it) better off than before I came? Did I give more than I took?
If I have the experience of a “death bed,” or given time to think and reflect before I die (I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not), I don’t know what would actually be most important to me. I know it won’t be the things I’ve achieved, the stuff I owned, the views I had, the arguments I won, or the accolades I accumulated.
But I think it will involve this question:
Did my life matter?
That will be answered by those I leave behind.