So here’s a cheery thought: We’re all gonna die.
I suppose there’s a less in-your-face way of saying it, but for most of us baby boomers, the reality is that there are simply more days behind us than ahead. And none of us is getting out of here alive. In fact, our births pretty much guarantee our deaths.
If we’re realists and responsible, we’ve already tackled some tough mortality-related issues like estate planning, advance directives and funeral arrangements, making our wishes known to our loved ones. In fact, I wrote an earlier post about how we boomers are putting the “fun” back in funerals, planning uniquely personalized final sendoffs.
But have you thought about your epitaph?
The reason I ask is because there’s an actual Plan Your Epitaph Day (it was November 2 this year). I kid you not. In 1995, a fellow named Lance Hardie reportedly established this observance to coincide with Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos), a Mexican holiday that honors the dearly departed. Nifty tie-in, huh?
Hardie’s intention was to raise awareness about taking control of our epitaphs. He wanted us to think about the short phrase or statement that captures the essence of who we were while we roamed the earth, and how we want to be remembered—kind of like a tweet or tagline for the ages. Or, for those of us so inclined, it’s our opportunity to literally have the last word.
For inspiration—or maybe a few chuckles or eye-rolls—here’s a sampling of epitaphs other people have on their gravestones (some famous folks, some unknown) that I found online:
I’m a writer, but then, nobody’s perfect (screenwriter and producer Billy Wilder)
Well, this sucks (somebody with the surname Mitchell)
This ain’t bad—once you get used to it (Murphy A. Dreher, Jr.)
Let ‘er rip (actor Leslie Nielsen)
I will not be right back after this message (producer and talk show host Merv Griffin)
He never voted for Republicans and had little to do with them (Bill Kugle)
I told you I was sick (Odell Gill Douglas)
I knew this would happen (George W., Jr.)
There goes the neighborhood (comedian Rodney Dangerfield)
A gay Vietnam veteran. When I was in the military they gave me medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one. (no name visible)
I’m just resting my eyes (Gloria Russell)
The shell is here but the nut is gone (no name visible)
Raised four beautiful daughters with only one bathroom and still there was love (no name visible)
Faults I may have. Being wrong is not one of them. (no name visible)
One hell of a woman (B. “Snooty” Lockwood)
That’s all, folks (Mel Blanc, the voice of Porky Pig and numerous other cartoon characters familiar to us baby boomers)
I was talking to some friends about this blog topic recently, and we all agreed that it’s not easy to summarize our lives in a line or two. But we had a few laughs imagining what our epitaphs could be—many of them reflecting the influence of social media or incorporating other pop culture references:
Five-star Uber customer rating
Low-fat diets don’t work
She was always early
I hope there’s wifi where I’m going
Update my Facebook status, please
Follow me @TheNextLife
That went fast
Not tonight, dear
Off the grid
It’s five o’clock somewhere
Return receipt requested
I’ll have another, please
First person, past tense
I’m resting in savasana
Being a life-long Rolling Stones fan, I’ve also narrowed down some of the band’s songs I might consider for my epitaph:
Out of Time
Time Waits for No One
Not Fade Away
It’s All Over Now
The Last Time
Can’t You Hear Me Knocking?
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
So what about you? Have you given any thought to what you want your epitaph to be? Would yours be sad and serious, or funny and irreverent? Does it seem too ghoulish to think about? Please share…
While you’re thinking about it, here’s this week’s haiku:
Life is like haiku:
it’s short, but you find room for
what truly matters.
Read more of my humor here.