I'm hoping it's not "Don't let the door hit you on the way out." Rather, when I go, I want people to celebrate my life. I want a party (of course). I want it to have a theme - maybe a party of all the party themes I've ever conjured up. How meta. (I'm kidding... No, I'm not... Yes, I am. That party sounds too awesome for something after I'm dead. I think the party theme party will have to be for some milestone birthday - maybe 50. I'd better start planning that. I only have 12 years!)
I'm also envisioning a guest book that functions kinda like a high school yearbook, with messages using the classic 3-rule formula:
- Say something nice about the person.
- Say something about your relationship with the person.
- Offer a pearl of advice.
So, instead of:
"You are so sweet Alysia. Those crazy labs in bio class were on fleek! Stay cool this summer!"
I hope people write something like:
"Alysia had a really good heart, and she always tried to make the world a better place. I will always remember the fun times we had finding a cure to all the world's diseases. I know the coming days will be hard, but take comfort in knowing that Alysia is undoubtedly amazed by the on fleek party supplies available in Heaven."
(I like saying "on fleek" because it's absurd.)
While I jest, applying the 3-rule formula to funerals is actually a pretty good idea. People want to be remembered for the good in their lives, and they want those memories to be personalized. As much as we may want it, we can't have bodily immortality. Rather, the closest we can get to immortality on earth is what people remember about us and tell others.
The 3-rule formula is a memory formula. People who write stuff in high school yearbooks like "I was the first to sign your crack! -Tommy" do a great memory disservice. Twenty years down the road, all I'm going to remember is that Tommy was a jackass. But the person who references the crazy bio labs, on the other hand, is much more likely to trigger a particular memory.
Memory building works the same way with funerals. When you reference a specific nice attribute of the deceased person and say something specific about your relationship with them, you're doing memory work. You are laying the foundation of their immortality. If you write stuff down, all the better. Immortality won't then have to rely on the spotty track record of oral history. Rather, there will be a written record detailing something great about that person that may potentially last for all posterity (or at least until the paper decomposes or the internets goes away). And of course, the third rule of the 3-rule formula is for the people left behind. Those are the classic condolences messages intended to help people cope with their loss.
To get back to the answering the question... when I die at the ripe old age of 118 (fingers crossed), I hope that those of you who are still around use the 3-rule formula to talk about me at my funeral. Be specific with your niceties and remembrances, and write your recollections down if possible. I realize that if I pass away at 118, the rest of you will be old as dirt as well, and specific recollections may be difficult. In that case, I give you permission to make stuff up ... as long as it's fantastic.