This Is What 106 Funerals Taught Me About Life & Digital Legacy #2

One clear moment, one of trance
One missed step, one perfect dance
One missed shot, one and only chance
Life is all...but one fleeting glance.
— Sanober Khan

Life Is Short

The average life is 25,019 days.
We sleep for 9,125 of them!
What did you do this day?

According to ancient wisdom, we should get "three score years and ten." Not so. For some, a lot less, and others much more. Sitting with a family who is mourning the loss of someone they love, life always ends too soon. Regardless of the many years, they lived. It's always too early. Thinking we have so much time when we are young we naively believe life is long. But the older we get, the years passing quicker, it is then you soon start to understand the lesson that life is short. 

I am a funeral celebrant. I plan, write a life tribute and then deliver those words on the sad day when families have to say goodbye to a loved one. In the last six months, I have written 106 funeral services. Wrapped up in the mystery of those unwelcome days, are four valuable lessons I have learned. Lessons about life and how you can leave a digital legacy for your family. Helping 106 families face death teaches you about life. 

This series of posts are about those four lessons. 

LESSON TWO - LIFE IS SHORT

The four key lessons are ancient lessons learned through the wisdom of time by many before. What I've learned connects with the importance of our Digital Legacy in this online age. Your Digital Legacy needs considering. You will have a Digital Legacy whether you know it or not. What have you done to organise it? Digital Legacy planning is critical today. If you spend any time online, (and reading this post you must do) you will have online assets. These need protecting for financial, legal and sentimental reasons. This series is about planning and managing your Digital Legacy proactively. Do this now so your family won't have to deal with the stress of doing it in the future reactively. Digital technology can help deal with the loss of a loved one.  If you start using these digital tools now, it could incredibly help your family in the future.   

LIFE IS SHORT AND DEATH CALLS RANDOMLY

Life is short and I've learned death calls randomly. The oldest of the 106 was a resilient, stoic and much-admired person who lived to be 104. They had seen the transformation of culture and society in their lives. They experienced living through two world wars. They saw first-hand the technological advances of the 20th Century. This person embodied and embraced change. They lived with Joie de vivre, enthusiasm, and passion. The "spirit" they had for living remaining with them right to the end. There is a fascinating book called the “The Warmth of The Heart Prevents The Body from Rusting. It’s a book about something that we all face and that is getting old. Marie de Hennezel, says some people live the golden age of their lives accepting the inevitability of ageing, without becoming old. The 104-year-old was one of those people. Is that the secret of their longevity? They still were saying that at 104 years old life was too short. There was still so much to do!

The youngest person was a precious little one born extremely premature. Each life is as valuable as another regardless of the length. The shortness of their days leaves you feeling their life was somehow "unfinished?" Victor Frankl says it well, some of the best symphonies are those that are "unfinished."

We cannot judge a biography by its length,
Nor by the number of pages in it,
We must Judge it by the
richness of its contents;
Sometimes those unfinished
are among the most poignant.
 
We cannot judge a song by its duration
Nor by the number of its notes;
We must judge it by the way
it touches and lifts our souls.
Sometimes those unfinished
are among the most beautiful.

This is the important truth of lesson two - life is short, however long it is. Life can be random. The hand of cards life deals can be cruel and unjust, leaving us questioning the rhyme or reason of it all. Questions about a short life are sometimes unanswerable.

As M Scott Peck says,

“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths."

It is how we chose to play the hand dealt that seems to matter most. For some, circumstances beyond their control spoiled, hurt and robbed their lives of joy. Even in some of those life stories resilience overcame injustice and love won over hate. Love always wins.

WHEN LIFE IS SHORT WHY DO WE WORRY AND FRET?

It is a blessing and privilege to write and deliver funeral services. The lessons teach you not worry so much about yesterday.  The regretting and hurts, the "he said, she did, they wouldn't" of life. Negative emotions can lose their sting when I'm reminded everything we own goes "back in the box."

Life is more like a game of Monopoly than a box of chocolates!

Try not to fret too much over tomorrow. The things you worry about today will soon be nothing more than wasted energy. Think of all those things you have worried about that never happened! Try to enjoy today. Let things go. Be kind, Be graceful. Forgive those who trespass against you even if they don't forgive you. The guilt, pain and regret will be theirs to bear and not yours.

LIFE IS REMEMBERED IN SCENES

When you remember your life so far, you often remember it in memorable scenes. We can recall events, sounds and even smells. Having that first bike. Summer holidays going back to the same holiday camp each year. Seeing Mum in the kitchen baking. Catching the smell again of particular food flooding your mind with happy memories. Dad was singing along (again) to his old records, then grabbing mum for a quick waltz around the room. The day you got married. The day your firstborn arrived. While life is short and we can't remember each day, what we remember are many scenes. What do you do with those scenes?

MEMONTAGE -YOUR LIFE STORY IN IMAGES

Memontage is a digital legacy platform that you could use to store these "scenes" from your life. It offers different ways of saving memories online. It is an easy way of building these scenes into an online legacy of your life or someone you love. Upload a photograph of that "once in a lifetime" trip and write the story behind it. Link to a video from YouTube of a favourite song or even a movie clip. Upload the recipe for that special cake that grandma used to bake. While you can't smell online (yet), those memorable scenes of your life can build into a Memontage. This site invites you to invoke the senses and create a Memontage telling a life story using smells, tastes, sights, sounds and flavours. Memontage is a new way and innovative way to store your Digital Legacy.

Check out an interview with one of the creators of Memontage on the Death Goes Digital Podcast.

THE IMPORTANT TRUTH OF LESSON TWO - LIFE IS SHORT - SAVE AND SAVOUR THE SCENES

So here is what I can suggest you do next. Write down some of those scenes from your life. Think about your life or someone you love and try creating a Memontage.

No matter how long you live, life is short. Using these tools can't guarantee you will live longer. But they do ensure your online memories will be around long after you.

This is the second lesson that I have learned from 106 funerals. 

If you would like to download a free e-Book of the whole series of 4 lessons, please confirm your email details below for an immediate free download of the series.