As far as the first question goes, my answer is “I don’t know.” We can speculate but we have no say over how or whether we will be missed or by whom.
“Would they miss you if you were gone? What would have to change for that question to lead to a better answer?”
Before I get to the second question, I’d like to introduce a book that I read recently, one that’s had a profound effect on me and that I will be revisiting throughout the coming year.
It’s called Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul, and is written by Stephen Jenkinson. Jenkinson worked in palliative care for most of his life – the “death trade” he calls it.
Through his work with dying people, he learned a few things about how we live and how we die and what terrifies us most at the end of life. Coincidentally, one of those things is how and whether we will be missed. His words below lead me into the second question.
The truth is that we cannot, nor should we be able to, choreograph the way in which we will be remembered, if we will be remembered at all. Dying people must stop trying to be remembered and begin to die remembering. ~ Stephen Jenkinson, Die Wise
To answer the second question, I wondered what it is that causes us to miss someone. And, how well do we remember others? Perhaps modelling a life where remembering is an essential part could inspire others to do the same.
How do I remember and how can we become a remembering people?
To be honest, I could incorporate more remembering practices into my life. I’m someone with a notoriously bad memory. I tend to let the past go and focus more on the future. I thought that was a good thing.
But, since taking up contemplative photography, I’ve come to a greater appreciation of the value of focusing my attention on the present. Photographs honour the moment and recognize the transience and impermanence of life.
2007 was the year I completed my first year long photography project, where I posted a photograph each day of my then hometown of Indianapolis. I remember so much about that year due to my attention and the visual reminders of the photographs.
Remembering those who came before.
I know a little about my ancestors and I often remember my parents, who both died in the prime of their lives. But, do I remember them daily or bring them into and part of our family get togethers? Not so much. One way I can teach my kids to remember is to honour aloud my own ancestors, whether I knew them or not. To tell the stories.
I do remember and am grateful for the mentors, teachers, family, and friends (living or not) who have impacted my life and helped shape my life. I try to give them credit as much as possible. Seth Godin and Jeffrey Davis are two of those people.
Remembering our interdependence.
Remembering is a form of gratitude and one important thing to be aware of is the interdependence of everyone and everything. I wouldn’t be here without my ancestors and the support and nourishment from other people and, of course, the natural world we are a part of – every single day.
By remembering that each day is a gift and that I can’t do it alone, I heighten my sense of responsibility towards life. And, the best way I can give back is to be and share myself.
What dogs teach us about remembering.
In Brenna Layne’s post on this topic, she mentions how much she misses her dog, who died this year. This really struck a chord with me since my dog, Daisy, also left us in 2015 and I miss her tremendously.
Dogs don’t do anything that we normally associate with being remembered. They don’t write books, run businesses, or create art. So, what is it that I miss about her? Her unconditional love, her presence, her cuddliness, her reliance on me. She was nothing but herself and she is truly missed, without ever wanting to be.
Something to think about.
And, here’s an interesting way to combine family stories with favourite family recipes – Sue Anne Gleason’s Luscious Legacy Project.