Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Death Be Not Proud...in the Twenty-first Century

Prior to the new millennium, I didn’t give that much thought to serious illness, medical matters, and the possibility of shuffling off this mortal coil in the blink of an eye. The only time I had called on a doctor in my adult life up to the age of forty, and somewhat beyond that, was for waxy build-up in an ear. A summer vacation's sea water compounded the problem, which I made considerably worse with my repeated attempts to clear out the thing. The ought years, however, altered my thinking patterns on the subject of life and death, and not just because of what happened to me but to so many others as well.

We should all have living wills. Perhaps I will make one someday. We should also make absolutely clear whether we wish to be waked at a funeral parlor at quite an expense, and have all too many people feel obliged to send costly flower arrangements that will find their way into the undertaker's trash in under twenty-four hours. I should, too, attend to this matter.

But right now, I’m more interested in the phone call or Internet announcement of my death. One of the most difficult things for family members and friends to do upon a death of a loved one is to notify others of the passing. Obviously, certain folks merit notification that a close relation, or good friend, is no longer among the living. This is not something the human species enjoys doing as a rule, and I was thinking of those who might someday have to pass along this final word vis-à-vis me.

So, here’s my proposal in this technological age of ours with iPhones, Flip Cams, and social media outlets like Facebook, to make everyone’s life a whole lot easier. Why don’t we all—in addition to preparing our living wills, etc.—record our “I’ve just died” or “I’m dead” YouTube and such videos right now, so that others in our lives can place them on social media sites, or use the audio portions to make robo-telephone calls to those who really and truly merit one. This would not only benefit the living compelled to both sorrowfully and awkwardly announce a dearly departed’s death, but also add a special touch, too—from you and from me. Now that it’s so possible, we should, in fact, be the ones who announce we are dead as a doornail—and not somebody else. I, for one, will be recording my “I am dead” proclamation and I hope you will join me.

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