What Do You Want People To Say About You When You Die?

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Grim Reaper breathing down your neck? Pearly gates of heaven? A thousand virgins? Reincarnating into a fire-breathing, ninja squirrel? Let’s just leave the afterlife semantics aside for the sake of this hypothetical question. When the day comes that you perish and leave this physical life behind; what kind of things would you want to be said about you?

After the tragic loss of the late and great, Robin Williams last night – it seems I was certainly not alone in being a fan of his genius, saddened by his death, and thankful for what he gave to the world. As far as celeb eulogies go – I think this has certainly trumped them all.

No unkind words seem to have been spoken and every man and his dog seems to be in general agreement, with respect to being in awe of his palpable talent.

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Lucky to be a 90’s kid. Cheers, Robin!

More notably, however, Mr Williams is constantly being praised for his humanness. His personal character. How he treated those around him and how he made them FEEL when in his presence. The words; “Kind,” “sweet,” “thoughtful” and similarly positive synonyms have been the rhetoric on the lips of those who were closest with him. It’s obvious that he was revered as much as a friend and a person, as he was acknowledged for his aptitude as an actor and comedian.

As funny as he was, he’s truly one of the all-time greats, he was even better as a person. He was even more fantastic, just the loveliest, sweetest, one of the kindest guys that I’ve ever worked with. Just such a soft, warm, emotionally sweet guy, and it’s a major, major loss for everybody and our hearts go out to his family.

(Will Arnett, minutes after hearing of Williams’ death).

I’ve written extensively before about the importance of not giving a fuck about what people think about you. And I’m still a fan of this ethos. It’s a pretty simple, yet often emotionally-compromising formula for long-term happiness; be true to yourself. Do no harm, but take no shit. Don’t jump through hoops for anyone. Never compromise your personal integrity. Hang around with people who lift you up.

But what about those who you do care about? Those people who are lucky enough to be sharing most of your tender, short and fragile time on this earth? Those who made the final cut. The people around you who you have personally manifested into your life. Your very own wolf pack of friends, family members and loved ones.

If you were to die tomorrow, and everyone who knew you dearly were injected with a heavy dose of truth serum – what would they REALLY say about you? Would you be spoken of in such glowing adulation as Mr Williams? Or would they say you could have stepped up a bit in some areas? That you didn’t play your part? Are you giving as much of the good stuff back, as you are receiving?

There are so many lessons to be learnt from the recent passing of Robin Williams. The most sorrowfully noteworthy of those being that even the seemingly happiest people can be crying on the inside.

I’d like to focus on this lesson – the question at stake; if you were to cease to exist in this world tomorrow – could you have been a better person? A better friend? A more attentive lover? A more doting parent?

Could you have been kinder?

More patient?

Could you have made more of an effort to make those who matter, feel better and more loved, when in your presence?

It’s never too late.

Give that a thought. You don’t have to write it down. Just think about it.

Your move, chief.



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1 comment

  1. Adam Sommer Reply

    Great post! I heard this said another way: “Focus on writing your own eulogy, not your resume”