Dying...and the Week After
Question: If, when you died, you could go somewhere (purgatory?) and watch the reaction back on earth for the next 7 days before your soul and mind and body shut down for good, would you do it?
You also have the option to not watch the reaction and die immediately.
Don't answer too quickly. Think about it. You would be privy to all conversations; you’d watch the cleaning out of your belongings (and cringe when your mom discovered your porn collection?), and you’d oversee the funeral and wake. You would hear it all. The things said aloud (‘what a great man’), the things whispered (‘loser’), and everything in between.
What would go into your thought process in making that decision? Would how you died matter? What if you assess your life harshly and fear hearing hateful things from loved ones?
It's a minefield, this proposition. I'm not sure what I would do. I certainly am conflicted. I don't put a lot of stock into most people's opinions of me now, so would dying change that? Would I then seek affirmation, approval, and love? And if instead I received criticism, disappointment, and rejection, is that what I want to carry into eternity as my last conscious experience (shuddering)?
If I died tomorrow, here is what I might encounter if I chose to view the 7 days.
First and foremost, from my family: disappointment. Unfulfilled potential. It would be whispered, hollered, and probably written about. None of that would surprise me. At this point, it is simply a fact. At times I have made it difficult to love me. I have not given my family the free pass most people afford their blood relatives. And it has hurt them. All of them. In my death, I think there would be a flavor of payback in their response and I would not blame them. My sometimes harsh assessment of them was mostly rooted in my idealism, where virtually everyone falls short and disappoints. An unfair standard, yet I held myself to the very same high standard, and fell short at least as much as my family. As a bonus, I developed a soul-sucking case of self-loathing to go with it. I think all of my family, me included, would ultimately be disappointed we were not closer. Death affords the ultimate in hindsight.
What might pleasantly surprise me is the number of woman, friends and former lovers, who’d want to have a hand in burying me, literally and figuratively. This would please me. I’ve made a lasting impression on most women I’ve been involved with. Two ex-wives who harbor little or no resentment. Ex girlfriends who shared with me the sadness of our failed unions, but no accompanying anger or bitterness. Discovering that women can be tremendous friends has been one of the most significant aspects of the last ten years of my life.
There have been ‘a few good men' that I have loved and been loved by, and they would be there, saying all the right things, trying to ignore the whole "potential" thing, toasting me and telling some of their favorite stories. Probably poking fun at my Raiders obsession. In short, cutting me slack, tipping the scale with a generous thumb weight in my favor.
How I died would play a large part in whether or not I wanted a front row seat at how people in my life felt about me.
Were I to die a hero, dancing through flames, saving twin 2 year olds from an apartment fire, only to go back in for the dog and get converted to a charcoal briquette, would even my harshest critics have trouble assessing me in the red after that?
Or, if I were hit by a bus while trying to convince a homeless person not to invest the fifty cents I just gave him on booze, would the black comedy aspect of my death influence my legacy? I'd rather hear laughs than see tears at my funeral.
Dying in my sleep before my time is up? Before I have a chance to fix that whole "potential" thing? Painful, but in a different way.
Ultimately, I would choose the 7 day post-death viewing period.
I simply would want to know the truth.
© Copyright 2016 Bill Rayburn. All rights reserved.
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