Death, dying, the great unknown is a topic often avoided. We shy away from it and we sweep it under the carpet. But the secret to facing death is in the art of living.
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist.” – Oscar Wilde
The end shouldn’t be a sad farewell it should be a celebration of your life. The Damsons Future Planning Report (2016) found that over half of the British population are adamant on having a celebratory funeral that represents their life. The report even found that over one-fifth don’t even want their families to cry at their funeral. The stigma and fear surrounding death are crumbling, it’s time to stop focusing on death and start enjoying life.
Begin with a Bucket List
The typical way to start is with a bucket list, I have one myself, one that I’m not close to finishing, not because I can’t stick to it but because I keep adding to it. Everybody should create their own bucket list. It’s a person’s guide to living life. Whether it’s a trip to the zoo or a trip to the Amazon, a bucket list is yours to make and as you start to tick items off the joy of living outweighs the woes of death.
One brilliant example of this is Stephen Sutton who was sadly diagnosed with cancer at age 15, two years later he was told the cancer was incurable. Despite this Stephen created a bucket list and began participating in charity events. In 2014 Stephen died but not before raising £4.5 million for the Teenage Cancer Trust and ticking off two-thirds of his bucket list.
Stephen Sutton’s bravery to share his final days and his positive attitude inspired millions to support The Teenage Cancer Trust and help him achieve his bucket list in his final weeks. Most people have a bucket list, a list of activities or goals they wish to accomplish before they die.
However, if you ask whether they have started their bucket list or ticked anything off it, the majority of people will say no. A bucket list shouldn’t be an afterthought it should be an ongoing mission. Bucket lists can be filled with your deepest desires for a lot of people it involves something daring like skydiving, bungee jumping or swimming with some form of dangerous creature. Others choose tamer yet equally important choices such as finding love, being a positive change in someone’s life or finding their vocation.
Why not create, start or finish your bucket list? What do you really have to lose? Whether 21 or 81 there is nothing stopping you. Age is but a number, it’s how old you feel that really determines how old you are. Limitations and barriers are only placed where you deem them to be. You’ve got to let go, take the plunge and get ticking those adventures off the list. It’s the memories and adventures that create a good life.
It’s not the amount of things we own or the things we collect, it’s the time spent with friends and family that are the most valuable belongings you own. Those memories are the ones that you look back on, ones that you cherish and ones that make you believe in a happy death. Death doesn’t have to be dreary, it’s how you live your life, how you manage your time and how determined you are, that you’ll look back and smile.
Your Lasting Legacy
With a life well lived usually comes a death well remembered. Whether it’s kindness, happiness or the randomness of a personality that reinforces your memory. Kindness is one of the simplest acts a person can ever commit. It’s effortless and an easy gesture that costs nothing.
Little acts can make a huge difference to another’s life, even more, that what was anticipated. It’s sometimes the basic acts in life that others cherish and remember you for. While lasting legacies are predominately created whilst alive that doesn’t mean to say a person can’t create a legacy after death. A person can still make an impact after death depending if plans have been made to make one last memorable act. For instance having a special yet endearing funeral organised can make a meaningful day for your family.
Whether that being having a picture display, a floral arrangement that reflects your hobbies or interests, the style of music – would it be sombre or upbeat? You could even arrange to ditch the traditional British funeral and have a new age funeral.
You could get your ashes shot into space, your ashes compressed into a diamond or you could be buried in an organic burial pod which uses the nutrients of your body to grow into a tree. Whatever you decide on, having a plan ensures you have a funeral that gives you the celebration you deserve.
Creating your Lasting Legacy
It’s easy to make plans for after death, however, it’s another process that tends to be ignored or one that people put off thinking about, let alone acting upon. The Damsons report found that only 17% of people have thought about their funeral and shockingly only 6% of millennials and over 65s have a plan in place.
It’s not a death plan, it’s a plan in place for when you die, after you’ve lived. It’s about ensuring your wishes are adhered to and your family knows what you want. It’s about letting them know how to throw a celebration in your honour as a final tribute to your life. An option out there is investing in a prepaid funeral plan. While many are dubious about obtaining one they do have their benefits.
All of your last requests, funeral arrangements and costs are covered making the funeral process much easier. It ensures that your voice is heard, that you get the celebratory send-off you wish no matter how ridiculous you desire your final affair to be.
“To the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure.” – J.K Rowling
Originally posted on Dying Matters