Imagine that you’re lying in the coffin at your own funeral. You are already dead, but you can still hear what’s being said. Everybody you’ve ever known, interacted with or came in contact with is present at the ceremony. They are all speaking about you, one after the other, and retelling their memories of you and how you affected them.
What are they saying about you? Are they praising or cursing you? What are their feelings about you? In one sentence, how do you think people will react to your death? Death is the moment of truth, the true measure of your life. You will not only be judged by yourself on your deathbed, you will also be judged by everybody else too.
Think over your interactions, all the significant events of your life, think about everybody you hurt and about everybody you made happy. You will review your life at the end of your life anyway, but by doing this exercise well before your death, you still have the chance to set things straight, to ask forgiveness from those you hurt and forgive those who hurt you.
Like I said in the previous episode, you can’t take anything with you when you die, only the effects of your actions will remain in this world. You will live on in the memories of all the people you affected during your lifetime, and how you treat people defines how you will be remembered.
But I’m not just speaking about the personal memory of you. I’m speaking about the effects of your actions, words and creations. How many times did you hear a song in the radio that cheered you up when you needed it the most, and you didn’t even know who the singer or songwriter was? Or when was the last time you told some wise words to your friend for encouragement that you quoted from an author you don’t even remember?
You effect much more people than you currently think. What’s more, this influence is oftentimes not only impersonal but also indirect. Meaning that your ideas, words or effects of your actions can spread from an initial circle of people onto others, just like ripples in a pond. You may indirectly influence hundreds or even thousands of people without you even knowing about it.
Irvin Yalom, the author of Staring at the Sun, calls this phenomenon the ripple effect, and found this to be the most powerful idea to counter death anxiety in his patients. He says that the idea that we can leave something of ourselves, even beyond our knowing, offers a potent answer to those who claim that meaninglessness inevitably flows from one’s finiteness and transiency.
So, whatever you do in your life stays in this world like an echo even after you are gone. This echo, this ripple, this effect is just like your ghost: it can interact with people, it can touch them, it can influence them, it can scare them but it can also comfort them. And it’s up to you what this ghost will be like, because it will be the exact mirror of your current life.
Everybody leaves behind something even if they don’t intend to. But most people are unconscious, they don’t think consciously neither about their lives, nor about their deaths. But you, who is listening to this, can create your ghost consciously, you can form the ripples of your life however you want.
And considering that these ripples will be the only thing left after you, I hope you can see how important this is. Although as a person, you can’t become immortal, you can create an immortal legacy and you can affect the lives of others from your grave. Ultimately what matters is not what you take with you but what you leave behind.
This is why I’m already consciously working on my legacy, even though I am still relatively young. But death may come anytime anyway, so really it’s never too early. This video itself is part of that legacy, as is every other video, audio or text. Although my content may not last forever, it can definitely outlive me.
I know that my work has already affected many individuals, and this gives me a sense of fulfillment. I know about some of these people through their comments and feedback, but most of them are unknown to me. They may just anonymously watch one of my episodes, get the value they need, and move on with their life without even remembering me. But I don’t mind, because I’m just the messenger, and the message is important.
If I can express myself completely, if I can extract every single piece of wisdom from me, if I can share every bit of helpful advice in me, if I can inspire others around me and far from me, I will die peacefully. I will truly rest in peace knowing that I don’t bring anything of value with me to the grave. I’m not like the old pharaos and kings; I don’t want to be buried with my values.
Knowing that my work may create ripple effects even after my death brings an extra amount of contentment in my heart. New and new people may find it and find value in it. They may not remember me, but they will remember the effect it had on them, and that’s all what counts. What about you? What kind of ripples do you want to create?
If you want to know more about death from a spiritual but down to earth perspective, you should read my book: The Power of Death. Click on the link below, and get it now! I’m deadly serious.