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What I Want People To Say About Me When I’m Gone

As a baby boomer, Denise and millions of others are becoming senior citizens. She explores what it means to be over 60 today.

Inevitable Part of Life

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Funerals

It seems like a morbid, fatalistic thought, I know, but I have given thought to my funeral. Having attended the funerals for my father, my aunt and my father-in-law, and the wake that followed, I know how people can talk about the things they remember most about the person who has passed. Material things are not what people usually talk about at a funeral. They usually talk about what kind of family person they were, how many friends and loved ones he/she is leaving behind and whether or not he or she will be missed. The things you remember about someone who has passed is usually time spent with them and the relationship you had with them.

One day not too long ago, my children were joking with me about what they would be saying about me at my funeral. They had many embarrassing stories and ribbed me about things they knew I didn’t want to be said about me. We all laughed and had a good time. Later I got to thinking: what would I like people to really say about me when I’m gone? Maybe I should say what would I NOT like people to say about me when I’m gone.

Last Rest

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1. Selfish

I don’t want people to say I was selfish.

Sure I have selfish moments, like anyone, but I try to think of others before myself. Still, I know I don’t always succeed. I think I would like to hear that people close to me thought of me as selfless.

Who hasn’t had times when you are asked to do something outside your comfort zone? Like Bilbo Baggins, I say adventures make one late for supper, and that’s not comfortable. I would rather not leave my comfy bed and stay a week with a sick family member, or drive hundreds of miles to be at the hospital for a friend, but those are things we should be willing to do for the people we love. I hope I have ignored my discomfort levels and done things for people enough to be thought of kindly when I pass.

If we have been pleased with life, we should not be displeased with death, since it comes from the hand of the same master.

— Michelangelo

Warm Family

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2. Cold

I don’t want people to say I was cold.

Like being selfish, I know I haven’t always been the warmest or friendliest person, but I certainly have tried to be. I have had a few friends that really can try a person’s patience and some folks have asked me why I put up with this person or that person. I think it is because I want people to put up with me. If I show grace wherever I go, maybe I will be worthy of some back when I am older and less than friendly.

Dean Martin

Every person, all the events of your life are there because you have drawn them there. What you choose to do with them is up to you.

— Richard Bach

Your Funeral

Hateful

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3. Hateful

I don’t want people to say that I was hateful.

When I love, I love deeply and faithfully, even people who prove they are unworthy of that devotion. I have very few really close friends, but those who know I care about them. I have had my pet issues, but I think I have tried to separate the person from the issue or belief system. I know a few bigots, some in my own family. I really hate bigotry and racism, but I don’t want to be someone who hates the person that is acting that way. I hope I have been someone who is loving, even to the unlovely.

Say not in grief: "He is no more", but live in thankfulness that he was.

— Hebrew Proverb

Time and Money

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4. Stingy

I don’t want people to say I was stingy.

Sure I have been frugal; ask my children. But stingy is someone who won’t share even when they have it to share. I hope people see me as someone who is likely to give and give generously if it is at all earthly possible. I’ve had some selfish, stingy moments when I think of how hard I’ve worked for what I’ve got, but those are short moments and I try never to indulge them. I want to be a generous, giving person always.

I look at life as a gift of God. Now that he wants it back, I have no right to complain.

— Joyce Cary

Where We All Eventually Go

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When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced.

Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.

— Cherokee Expression

My Great Aunt Paulou's Memorial

Approachable

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5. Distant

I don’t want people to say I was unapproachable.

This one is one of the hardest for me. I do like to be somewhat of a hermit and tend to close myself off, especially when I am being creative and artistic. But when I’m needed I try to be available. My husband said today that I masked it well when he called me for the 10th time to come help him, interrupting me from a creative project I was in the middle of. He said he didn’t notice that I was slightly annoyed. He’s sweet to me and probably chooses not to notice if I’m irritated. I hope no one ever notices if I am slightly annoyed. Creativity is one thing, but relationships are what last.

Death--the last sleep? No, the final awakening.

— Walter Scott

Grief

6. Gossip

I don’t want people to say I was a gossip.

I have had a few fiascoes when I failed to keep my big mouth shut when small ears were listening. I know there are many times when it is appropriate to talk about a concern, but I have fallen prey to talking out of turn about things and people that didn’t concern me and I am ashamed of those times. I hope as I get older that I have been better and keeping a watch before my mouth. It is my sincere hope that my failures are not what people remember most, but those times when I have been faithful and trustworthy with secrets.

The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.

— Harriet Beecher Stowe

What do you think?

I figure if I manage to keep people from saying or even thinking any of these things about me, then I have lived a good life. I will be very happy.

What do you think?

Final Comments Here

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on October 29, 2015:

integrater,

Putting that in your will would imply you actually DO care what they say about you after all. lol. But I know what you mean. I shouldn't care. But somehow I do. I have a daughter who hasn't spoken to me in 11 years. It really hurts but I don't let it destroy me. I have a good life with or without her. Still I wonder what she'll say about me when I'm gone. I wonder what she's saying about me now. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Certified Noob on October 29, 2015:

Interesting hub .

I don't really care what people would say about me after I am dead. I don't really care what they say about me while I am still alive so no point in worrying what they say after my death. Of course if I make enough money I will leave all my money and wealth only to those people who would never talk ill about me, ever, after I am gone. One foul word about me and all the money I gave them will have to be returned with interest, that will be the first line in my will :D . If you get my money you have to observe some rules!!!!

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on April 15, 2015:

Thank you, Penny. I appreciate that.

Blessings,

Denise

Penny Miranda from Portland, OR on April 15, 2015:

Some things only time can heal, but boy can it take a long time! I wish you the best.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on April 14, 2015:

Penny Miranda,

Thanks a good thing. I hope so. I know my kids have a few things against me and wouldn't mind saying some mean things when I'm gone. They haven't forgiven me even though I've asked. Wishing you well.

Blessings,

Denise

Penny Miranda from Portland, OR on April 14, 2015:

Very interesting! Based on your poll it looks like most of us expect positive things to be said about us. Hopefully that is true! It should mean we're making a good impact on the world :)

DawnM Samora from Akron, Ohio on February 20, 2015:

You are welcome :)

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 19, 2015:

Thank you, Dawn. I appreciate it.

DawnM Samora from Akron, Ohio on February 19, 2015:

I have also been the black sheep, Paintdrips. I think we have some things in common. You're doing great being yourself. I sometimes worry about what people say or think of me, but I'm getting better. All I can do is keep doing my best, not for them, for me :)

You are an amazing writer. I enjoy your Hubs a lot :) Dawn

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 19, 2015:

Dawn, thank you so much for visiting. It is something I think about because I have always been the "black sheep" of the family. They seem to talk about me a lot even when I'm keeping to myself, a low profile, as it were. Oh well.

DawnM Samora from Akron, Ohio on February 19, 2015:

Hello PaintDrips,

I loved this Hub from you! This was so original. You know, I never have thought about what people will say about me when I'm gone; but This hub really grabbed me and kept my attention. I loved the Dean Martin song also.

Thanks! DawnM

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 04, 2015:

I went to another funeral this weekend, for an elderly member of the family. She was 93 and had a good life. It was interesting to hear the great stories and positive things she had done for people. But I always get the impression that people (even me) had not-so-charming stories that we all kept to ourselves. Memories that were her less-than-stellar moments.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on January 16, 2015:

Old albion, thank you for visiting. I'm not really sure what my children may say about me. Some are still mad at me for past decisions and some are cool with me. I read John Green's A Fault in our Stars and got to thinking what I would like to be said about me. All I can do is live the best life, with generosity and dignity and hope for the best from my relatives.

Graham Lee from Lancashire. England. on January 15, 2015:

Hi Denise. Thank you for your valued visit. I like your hub very much, it's meaningful and heartfelt. I took the vote and found myself in the orange part of the pie chart. Like most of us I try to do my best far all.

Graham.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on January 10, 2015:

Catherine, thanks so much. I collect a few quotes too but mostly art quotes. Thanks for visiting. And yes, I was going for the positive "how to live" rather than how to die aspect of the subject.

Catherine Giordano from Orlando Florida on January 10, 2015:

This an excellent hub, not about death, but about life. How should we live so that only nice things are said about us at our funeral. More importantly, maybe people will say nice things to us while we are still alive. And we will say nice things to them. I liked your quotes since I am a collector of quotes and various subjects.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on January 09, 2015:

Elsie, thanks for visiting. I only thought of the subject because I attended a funeral for a family member who was not well liked, who had abused and hurt many people. It was very eye-opening.

Blessings for a Happy New Year to you too.

Denise

Elsie Hagley from New Zealand on January 08, 2015:

Very interesting reading. I haven't thought much about this subject until now.

As for your poll about "Do you expect some bad things to be said about you at your funeral?" I couldn't answer as I really don't know.

I know my grandchildren will be saying very nice things (I think).

I will be coming back to this article and reading it again, little short of time at the moment.

Hope you have a Happy Prosperous 2015.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on December 09, 2014:

Great thoughts. My husband and I have been dealing with some financial issues left behind by his father and I agree with you. Those are things to consider. Thanks.

Denise W Anderson from Bismarck, North Dakota on December 08, 2014:

This is something I have given thought to as well, having recently experienced the death of my beloved mother-in-law. She was well-known and loved by many. Personally, I am aware of what I consider to be her faults, but these were not mentioned at her funeral. The fallout of her estate afterwards was quite revealing, however, as she had financial issues that were kept hidden and are now having to be dealt with. It has given me cause to consider my own actions, and what I am doing with my life. I don't want people to be surprised when they are settling my estate after I am gone!

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on December 08, 2014:

I haven't seen the movie but loved the book. I know exactly what you are saying. Though I feel I have fallen short on a few things, I do hope I'm remembered for the goodness I tried to put into the people I love and know. And after all, it's the memories we leave behind and not the epitaph carved in stone that will be worth anything. Blessings.

Pinky de Garcia on December 08, 2014:

Dear PAINTDRIPS,

This is an interesting hub.After watching Fault in Our Stars, I started to think on what would people say about me when I'm lifeless already. Will I organize my own pre-necrological services?Definitely, this is a good idea so that we can still treasure the words from our love ones. But, no one knows our due date.

My view about this is to live life the way we wanted to be remembered.

Thanks for coming up and sharing this interesting piece.

Have a joyful day,

Sweetpikez

Pinky de Garcia on December 08, 2014:

Dear PAINTDRIPS,

This is an interesting piece. After watching Fault in Our Stars, I started to think what would people say about me when I'm lifeless already. Will I organize a pre

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on December 05, 2014:

Good advice. Thanks. Blessings.

win-winresources from Colorado on December 05, 2014:

I want someone whose looking in the casket to say, "Wait a minute! I think he is breathing." (Yeah, I know - an old joke.)

Live your life to the standards you set forth and don't worry about what someone may or may not say after you are gone.