Every day, we have people enter our life, even for a few seconds, and they have an effect on us. No matter how short of a time it may be, every single person can impact another’s life and should be remembered for it.
Last spring, I heard of a former co-worker’s passing through Facebook. At just 48 years of age, Kelly’s death was sudden and unexpected. As friends, we posted condolences and past stories about her, expecting to learn more about her funeral plans. Unfortunately, single and living alone, thousands of miles from her estranged family, her end-of-life affairs were very quickly addressed and the decision was made for no service or even an obituary. She simply no longer existed.
Just recently, I heard about an old college friend who had died. It turns out Brenda’s death wasn’t recent but over 25 years ago at the young age of 31. I wanted to learn more through her obituary but unfortunately, my online searches found none. There was little trace she existed as well.
Then in the past few months, I read several articles about communities coming together to attend funeral services for individuals who were being laid to rest with no one in attendance. As stated by one of the strangers who chose to attend a funeral of a woman with no family, “It’s important to celebrate her life, to celebrate the fact that she even lived.”
All of these instances reminded me of just how minimized a life can be if there isn’t anyone to recognize their existence through some sort of memorialization. I know more than a few funeral directors have laid to rest an individual with no family or friends present, no obituary written, just a death certificate in hand. It must be a sad experience to go through.
I know I am preaching to the choir but it begs reminding ourselves and the families we serve that honoring, celebrating and preserving a life has so much value. Every one of us have contributed to our surroundings in some way—large or small, publicly or privately—we’ve made a difference. It’s vitally important to be aware of the value of human life … that you, me, the man in the next car, the woman jogging in the park … all make an impact on those around us every day.
In regards to Kelly’s remembrance, thankfully, a fellow former co-worker living in the vicinity, organized a memorial service a few weeks after Kelly’s passing. Friends and colleagues attended a picnic, bringing photos and stories to share so that Kelly was given the respect and honor deserved in her wonderful life. For me, Kelly’s difference in my life was her ability to make us smile and laugh with her, regardless of the situation, and her love of sports, especially golf.
As for my college friend, Brenda, while I never did find her obituary, I did locate her grave marker online which properly honored her with “Our Little Star.” I will always remember Brenda for being the first girl who could shoot better than me in basketball, and her competitive spirit of just enjoying life while she lived it.
When each of us do pass, I know we all want to be remembered for making a difference in those around us. Let’s not forget that’s exactly what those who pass before us want, and more importantly, deserve.