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Thoughts and Questions Evoked by Attending a Memorial

How to live, how to die.

Frank Schulenberg, Wikimedia, CC 1.-0
Source: Frank Schulenberg, Wikimedia, CC 1.-0

As we get older, we go to more memorials, a reminder of our place on the conveyor belt and that we better do it while we can.

I attended a memorial today. It evoked some thoughts and questions that may be of value to you.

As I woke this morning, I found myself dreading going. Experts tell us to face death, that it helps us live better. But I generally do better by suppressing, not just death thoughts but anything I can’t do anything about. How about you?

Memorials force you to think about your own demise. Yes, I’m mollified by the fact that I won’t be any more aware of being dead than I was of life before I was born. Yes, I’m comforted by the possibility that if the pain of dying isn't worth it, I live in a state in which I should be able to convince my doc to cradle me peacefully into The Big Sleep. That said, I’d rather think about anything than death and dying. Alas, attending a memorial makes that impossible. How would your best self deal with death and dying?

I’m driving to the memorial and trying to focus on—and the expression seems somehow out of place here—making the most of it. I’ll talk with friends and, since it will be attended broadly, maybe make a new friend. In listening to the eulogies, while recognizing that they're tinged in rose, I’ll listen for life lessons I might want to learn. What might you want to get from attending a memorial?

Interesting that, although the deceased had a significant career, the eulogizers mainly extolled his antics. I wonder what they'll say about me? What do you think they'd say about you? Does that make you want to do anything differently?

I get back in my car, grateful to be out of there. I'd not want my memorial like that: He wanted it to be a fun time: DJ, lots of booze and dancing, 200 people at a fancy country club, with 15 eulogizers who were told to emphasize roasting him. I'd want my wife to have five or ten people she likes to come to our house for a simple, quiet dinner, with a few not-puffed things said about me. What would you like? Should you write it down and give it to the person who'd likely be in charge?

I read this aloud on YouTube.

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