Many nights endure Without a moon or star So we will endure When one is gone and far

I’ve been thinking alot .....really, far too much – about death these past two weeks. My 48-years old uncle died eight months ago . And, in a 5 months and a half, we’ll mark the 10th anniversary of my other cousin's death.

These two men, separated by many years in age, were very, very different people. But, they did share a few commonalities. They died way too early in their lives ,my uncle after long battle with mouth cancer, and cousin in an accident and neither one believed the end would come. Consequently, neither told anyone how they wanted to be remembered and what their final wishes were.

So, sitting through my uncle final days and then planning their funeral was challenging for his family.

How did they want their lives celebrated? Was there a final resting place that they preferred over another? What were the things they wanted to be remembered for and how should that be communicated to those who came to honor their memories? From the simple to the deep, their families were left to make their best guesses.

Whether it’s fear of death, denial or just plain disbelief, far too many folks leave loose ends when it comes to their final wishes. I’m not going to, so here they are – my wishes for when the end of my life happens.

- I don’t want to suffer and I don’t want to linger endlessly. If my death is imminent, then bring it on. Give me drugs to kill the pain and don’t do things that will make me live in pain and despair. (To my doctor friends out there, you know what you need to do.)

- Don’t let one single sad thought come into your mind. Remember me for my laugh, and then let out a laugh yourself. Life is far too precious not to find every opportunity to giggle, guffaw and laugh from deep down in your belly. Tell the funniest stories about me that you can remember again and again.

- There needs to be a serious party in my memory. Everyone has to drink and eat .
- Take something of me to the woods and leave it. I have spent my life gaining strength from the woods and it gives me great peace to think that I will always have that in my life and death. -If possible burry me in the woods.
- Find a way to remember me for the values I’ve treasured in my life – kindness and compassion, the wisdom to listen, the good judgment to not judge others too hastily, the knowledge that there are many sides to a story and many different perspectives shared and unshared, and the belief that you will find goodness in everyone, no matter how big or small.

- Do one simple thing in my memory. Reach out to a deserving organization and volunteer, make a meaningful donation to a group that really needs it, or just find a way to show another living human being that you care and will be there for them.

- Finally, don’t stop living because I have. Those of you who know me, know what I stand for. Be fearless and carry it on.



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