What if you died today? 3 Conversations to have with Death
Original Post: October 14, 2019
Ever get on a plane, or be somewhere and wonder if something happened, what your last thoughts would be? Would there be regrets of things you didn’t say, did say, do, didn’t do? How would your memory be felt / live on in those you touched? Not to say I spend a lot of time thinking about death, recently it’s been more of a question of what is my relationship with death?
Maybe a little backstory…
Recently I’ve had the unique opportunity to go to Burning Man. To say it was reaffirming and transformational would be an understatement. I definitely plan on coming back next year especially w the amazing OKNOTOK family.
There are a few moments that really made me think a little deeper about death and my relationship with it.
Burning Man Temple 2019
One of the early prebuilds days I was lucky enough to be invited by Jesse Salveson to join Feed the Artist, where we’d bring gourmet meals out to the various artists working on installations on the playa. During dinner the topic of the “Temple” came up. As a place I should visit during the burn. It was a place where people could go and say goodbye to friends, pets, family, anything they needed to let go of. What really stuck in my head was when our friend Monica was brave enough to share about her experience in losing her dad.
She talked about how important it was that we let our loved ones know what we want done. This way there’s no squabbling over what they would of wanted cremation vs burial, here vs there, etc. You can imagine with grief and emotions how these things left undefined can cause conflict.
Sure I made a will (responsible) and so did my parents, but I realized we have never actually talked specifics. Dad Tony Bertram has joked he wants Viking burial at sea but does he really? Can we just build a wood raft or are we talking a real boat we set on fire, Lake Ontario? Mom Michelle Bertram I am guessing Buddhist style cremation but what to do with the ashes — with grandma? Sister Christina Mac I have no idea? Made me think what would I want done…
Conversation #1 with death: What do you want done with your affairs / details of your funeral?
- Will 👌 don’t leave your assets no matter how big or small on the table.
- Organ Donor = Yes!
- In this modern age make sure you set someone to manage / access your profiles. Facebook calls it a legacy contact: https://www.facebook.com/help/1506822589577997?ref=tos
Geoff just don’t look at my messages…
- Details for Me = Celebrate Adventure and Life theme
I would like to be cremated for sure and then my ashes taken care of in a few different ways.
First I’ll start w the crazy ask but I’ve loved space and science fiction my entire life. If there was a way some of my ashes could be put on a rocket 🚀 and fired off into space (not into a star please) that would be amazing. The idea that some planet because of my DNA spawns millions of Huy life forms one day makes me happy.
Secondly, let’s definitely do a surf paddle out 🏄🏽♂️ I love the ocean and taking part in the Jack O’Neil memorial was such an experience. Connecting with nature and others I’d want the same for my loved ones. I’ll say Santa Cruz Cali for now because it’s where I really grew into surfing, plus it’ll be a fun trip/vacation for friends abroad 😉
Jack O’Neil Memorial Paddle Out
Thirdly, along the lines of surfing/ocean make me into a tree (link here) and plant me with a view of the surf. Ideally a nice right hander and a little plaque would be nice. I’d be a place for people to enjoy a beautiful view 🥰
Fourthly, a fundraiser party of some sort would be great. Create a fund with the proceeds (my will has this Kickstarted) and have the dividends/earnings every year go towards causes I care about like the ocean conservancy, giving opportunities to kids to experience surfing, kids access to education/technology opportunities, and supporting single mothers.
Lastly, take me to the Burning Man temple. I’d love for family and friends to have an experience in so many shapes and forms. The idea of some friends / family there puts a smile on my face knowing they are pushing their comfort zone. Do a big table dinner together, then take me out dancing all night till the sunrise and drop me off at the temple on your way home. Extra points if you get me on the DJ table on one of the big sound stages like Mayan Warrior lol
LET IT BURN!
Whew that was a lot to think about! Thanks for sticking through so far as this is a long post.
What else came up during this dinner was actually how Jesse Salveson and Monica Ravizza met. Our camp OKNOTOK did these fake funerals last year where they would pick you up in a casket and bring you to the camp for your eulogy given by 2 people chosen by you. Turns out Jesse was one of the applications Monica picked! What an awesome idea though. It reminds me a lot of this mental exercise of writing your own obituary. How would you be remembered? What impact on those lives around you would you have made? What would people say? He partied hard that Energizer and loved his family/friends fiercely? Would you feel good about what others would say or would there be things you would have changed?
Conversation #2 with death: How do you want to be remembered?
I am gonna keep this one to myself for now but I feel it’s quiet aligned with what I hope people will say. I would however say that the great thing is that if you are reading this, you can still write your story, your way. As my best friend Shawn told me once as kids when I teased him about his journal (I have one myself now last 12+ years), “no one will be able to tell your story but you”.
I am not really sure if this third conversation fits. I might of started writing thinking three tips is a good structure but here we go anyways lol
Conversation #3 with death — How to say goodbye?
I think if you have your details/affairs in order to take the burden off your loved ones, you go through the exercise of your own obituary/funeral and feel aligned with that, you can let go and say goodbye to death.
Like if I am gone tomorrow I am ok with that. I feel I have lived as best as I could in a way that makes me feel fulfilled. Sure it would suck because there’s still more I’d like to do (barrel please!! grandkids for mom?), it’s that I’ve made peace with it. I am not wasting any time that I have on worrying about death. I would hope my loved ones know that I only wish them happiness and that they made my life feel like I was truly alive.
That being said hope you get some good conversations with death out of the way and let’s focus on LIVING!!