Talking about death is morbid. Essentially, there’s nothing happy about dying.
Being an educator, I choose my words carefully, especially on social media. I do not wish to be wrongly interpreted or seen advocating the “bad”. However, I believe talking about death isn’t morbid. In fact, the idea of passing on would be able to shed light on how one could shape his life.
Many believe our doings and choices will lead us to where we will be in the future, or even how we depart from this the Earth. I guess there is a good level of truth in this sentence. Many also yearn for a respectable departure and wish to be missed by the loved ones. But some would argue that even if you can leave fortunes for beneficiaries or have buildings named after you, it will not affect you on a secular level. You don’t exist.
That's quite true isn't it.
In Asian societies, parents believe in passing down fortunes to the next generation. This is to ensure continuity of bloodline and also the responsibility of a “good parent”. While we believe in tangible inheritance will help your children to survive, there may be something else, which is intangible, and that will help them to succeed. That is the passing down one’s fondly remembered trait.
If you’ve watched “Fault in Our Stars” and could recall the emotional lines from the eulogy, that scene taught me something – the infectious trait of someone does have a positive effect on others. I believe it’s human nature to look upon someone and be inspired by the better and stronger. The experience of knowing someone truly inspirational and letting the “light” shines through your life could be psychologically altering. Having said that, it doesn't mean one has to fight for peace or save the world to be treated like an inspiration. Sometimes a simple trait of generosity or honesty could influence and change someone's action or mindset. In a nutshell, I believe behaviour is contagious.
Building on that belief, it makes perfect (and common) sense to be a nice person. But having the intention of "leaving that goodness" behind after you've passed on might shift your mindset by a little. How can one leave something intangible to someone else...
One of the most common question I asked about death is “how do you want to be remembered after you are gone? “ It might sound like a haughty thought at first. Why would you need anyone to remember you? Who do you think you are?
If you were to come from a different perspective, that question is as good as asking you "what's your most memorable personality?" Or "What do people know you as?" Are you a caring person who always spare a thought for others or one who is passionate about your work and life?
Death also has this amplifying and altering effect on people. If you were to look at death on a broader perspective, it could also be death of a relationship or something intangible, the lost of something monumental. When death happens, we sink into the state of grieving. The last stage of grief, acceptance, is not exactly the act of accepting the situation but rather the ability to live with it. It is the new norm we have to live with. Through multiple adjustments in life, new roles are taken and personalities are formed. The ability to “survive” the ordeal depends on individual but I believe how the deceased is remembered plays an vital role in the “recovery” stage.
Being able to pass down “fondly remembered” traits doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t become the “nicest” person within hours on your deathbed. It’s the same as amassing fortune. It takes years to build.
If we are able to cultivate the habit of saving or earning, maybe we should do that for our personality. We can start by asking ourselves “how do you want to be remembered” to start the “saving plan”. It’s like a checklist of traits you would like to cultivate or develop. These traits will be sown as seed of positivity in the society.
So how do you want to be remembered?