Now that I’ve turned 60, it’s only a matter of time before the icy hand of death finds me. Burrr!
Which got me thinking about how much I should plan for it, how much I should do in advance, so those left behind-lovely phrase, don’t you think?-are less burdened with the detritus of a life well, or poorly, spent.
All of which is a modern contrivance.
In olden days, with luck, you dropped dead and that was that. Of course, as with all things that wasn’t literally true, but for the purposes of this little mental exercise, let’s go with the simple. The grieving family would place you in the parlor for viewing before setting you in a pine box and depositing your remains in the local cemetery overlooking the town. Quick and easy; very cinematic. Probably a bit more entangled-all history is-but for most, probably not. Why? People did not have as much “stuff” as we end up with now. That’s why house hunters these days are so disappointed in the closets of older homes: too little space. Also, it probably didn’t involve the local authorities to the extent it does today.
No one set you out in the family parlor these days. It’s against the law.
Today, dropping dead is its own industry for all involved in dealing with those departing this mortal coil. Government, lawyers, et all. Advisors, with all solemnity, recommend that we should have wills, powers of attorney, living wills(?), instructions for our still living bodies after our minds are gone, both literally and figuratively, trusts-for anyone with any money- and on and on.
It’s requires a lot of time, work, and money.
It also asks the fundamental question: how much do I like, I mean really like, those I leave behind? Glib? Hardly. Having had to help in the sorting out of a person’s life after they’ve passed-another lovely term that is less impactful or dreaded as “died”-I can attest to the fact that it too requires a lot of time, work, and money.
Those of us who care, we are told, will have all our affairs in order soas not to unduly burden those tasked with closing out accounts as it were. And I think that’s fair to a point, certainly where a financial burden may occur. Again, assuming any concern for those left behind.
If you don’t care, are disinclined, or have a mean streak, doing little or nothing won’t actually matter because you’ll be dead. As folks like to say: not my problem.
There is one other consideration in not doing too much: forcing those tasked with disposing of our stuff to, hopefully, use the time to better understand our life as, one would again assume, our stuff typifies who we were. Sure, it will lead to a lot of unanswerable questions-you won’t be there-but speculation on those who came before us is part of the experience, which is the essence of life.
Then again, they may simply hand it all over to companies who specialize in such matters and split whatever cash it produces.
It won’t matter because you’ll be…
©2019 David William Pearce