Archives for posts with tag: Death

What do you want your epitaph to be? What would you choose?

Epitaph is an interesting word, as it means a short summary of one’s life but actually comes from the Greek words epi and taphos, meaning ‘on a (tomb)stone’. So it’s the ‘here lies etc’ that we read when we wander around cemeteries.

Most epitaphs give a name, birth and death date, while a few have a choice quotation, but you don’t see many of them around these days, which is a pity I think. It’s nice to get a snapshot of a person you don’t know, something they chose to sum up their live in a handful of words. You tend to find them in obituaries, which is another fascinating word because it derives from the latin word meaning to come up against something, as in to meet one’s end.

I don’t think I’ll be bothering with a tombstone or a grave, as I’d prefer to rot away environmentally, but I think I’d like something like ‘Occasionally aspired to greatness, but humdrum most of the time.’ Never hitting greatness, but aiming for it, is, I think, a reasonable goal.


All of us are one step from the grave. We’re one heartbeat away from death. The Vice President is one heartbeat from the Presidency.

One turn the wrong way, a moment’s loss of concentration, or perhaps a case of wrong place, wrong time and it’s curtains. Goodnight Vienna. If that doesn’t push you to live in the moment I don’t know what will…

Actually, perhaps this will. We’re also one step away from winning the lottery, getting the all clear, seeing our efforts paying off, being really happy at seeing the joy of someone we love or respect, sneaking the winning shot, or reaching someone influential with the right message, the right offer at just the right time.

You might say we’re all one step from the great, as opposed to – or in addition to – one step from the grave.

When my Dad died, about 12 years ago, there were a number of pieces of paperwork we had to complete. I say paperwork because the forms we had to fill in were just that, paper.

Dad was truly pre-digital. He didn’t have a mobile phone, an email address or an online bank account. He didn’t have anything digital. Heck, the guy didn’t even own a pair of jeans. When he died, we wrapped up his affairs in a 100% offline way. And that was it. He generated no more paper. He didn’t write any more letters.

Nowadays a good portion of us are digital. I’m sure you are, reading this blog post. When you die, what will your digital death be like? Will someone set up your email out of office for you? ‘I’m sorry, but Paul is not in a position to reply to your email, ever. You see, he’s dead.’ Will someone close your Facebook account, your other accounts, your online subscriptions? Will they even know where your passwords are, if you’ve committed them to offline or online sttorage somewhere? There’s guy I’m connected to on LinkedIn who hasn’t just retired. He died along time ago, and I get his work anniversary notifications, which is a bit surreal.

Your digital death extends way beyond your physical death, perhaps forever. When you die, you’re not just in our hearts and minds, you’re still around in the ones and zeros.

A child died recently in my local community. A young teenager. It’s hard to write this post, because even though I didn’t know the child, those close to me did.

The last funeral I was at for a young person was 20 years ago when a cousin of my good lady died aged 19. This recent event brought back all those memories.

The over-riding feeling is that of a sense of waste. A waste of a life not lived fully, a life that could have united with someone else to bring forth other lives. And of course a sense of deep loss and empathy for the family who will go through the kind of torture that will only marginally lessen over decades.

As you can imagine, the funeral was a desperately sad and upsetting affair, full of women and children crying, men with their faces set in a grim rictus. In other words, the kind of funeral for any premature death.

I could offer the usual platitude that this kind of thing puts our everyday troubles in stark perspective, which of course it does, but what struck me at this funeral were the words of the sermon at the funeral 20 years ago, delivered by the young priest.

He had one piece of advice, which was, ‘never forget, never forget them.’ Then he added, pointing to his heart and his head, ‘they live here, and here.’