Life after death – Immortality is how we’re remembered

by Paul Goodchild on August 20, 2012

A couple of days ago I buried my father.

It’s the most horrible experience of my life and I wish only that no-one else has to ever go through it.

But we all do. That’s the sad part.

There is no other relationship like it in your life and I can’t imagine another that would compare, perhaps unless I’m a father one day.

It fell to me to give some sort of eulogy at the funeral service. We stood together, all the siblings, to pay our respects and I spoke on their behalf about the dad we had.

I’m not going to put into this post what I said, but I’m going to put down the main thrust I wanted to share at the time: our immortality.

When someone close to us dies we’re naturally forced to consider our mortality.

With my dad’s passing, and given something my sister wrote on her facebook, I got to thinking of our immortality.

Death and our immortality

Leading up to the day, I was reminded repeatedly about how we were going to pay our respects to our dad – that it’s all about him, not about us.

I don’t agree with that anymore.

It is all about me! It’s all about you too. It’s about us all.

The reality is that he’s gone.

But then he’s not.

He touched so many people in his life – it was incredible – and the comments from people I received on the day confirmed this.

And that’s what he is now – the collection of memories that are shared by all of us who knew him. If we didn’t have any memories or we weren’t touched by his life, then he really would be gone.

But we do have those memories.

We were touched by his life and who he was. Each of us in our own way. And through his influence he lives on.

There’s no way to convey how he has shaped who I am today. I can only hope that I adequately represent who he was.

A moral compass

When I wonder about the right way to be, to act, to respond, I consider what dad would think of my actions.

We were different people, he and I, and we didn’t always have the same values. But considering what he would have thought of me always kept me right.

There have been times, many of them, where I haven’t considered what his opinion might be. These would rarely turn out for the best.

I tried to share this idea of immortality to the people gathered that day… the idea that in all things we have a choice to do what is right, or do what is wrong.

Are we reflected positively in the lives of our children, in the lives of our brothers, our sisters, our friends, our lovers?  Will we live on after we’re gone, leaving a positive impression on the people we touched? Or are there more than a few lingering bitter tastes…

Will we live on in the hearts of our loved ones as someone who has influenced them for the better, or will we leave behind resentment and hurt?

Do we inspire others to do what is right?

There are many ways to slice this question to get the same thing.

Obviously we want to be remembered in a good light, but that doesn’t happen all by itself.

One thing my sister wrote of my dad was that “no-one ever had a bad word to say…” and it summed it all up nicely.

For a few days, weeks, months, or however long we can maintain it, if we could only try to be that person for others… that person who no-one has a bad word to say about.

Imagine you inspired your friends and especially people you don’t know by your presence, that instead of leaving behind resentment, they’ll comment on your positive attitude, how you helped them in some way.

I would hope that with leaving this impression on the people I touch, that they too would go on to reflect it on the people they connect with.

And so on and so forth.

If we can each make the effort to do this, the influence of one man that did this by default of his nature would be huge. I can think of no greater legacy for someone to leave behind.

We don’t always get it right, but what if we try?

I can only hope that as I live I represent who he was and that for everyone who doesn’t have a bad word to say about me, it reflects who my dad was and how he lived.

I’ll leave this with one final question and one suggestion:

If you were to pass away today, will you be remembered by the people you love how you’d like to be?  If not, do what you must to ensure you are.

If you haven’t spoken to your dad for a while, call him today.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Noch Noch August 23, 2012 at 08:39

reminds me of something I read before, to write our obituary and see how we would like to be remembered – and live our lives accordingly.
Our condolences. BUt your dad will be remembered by many it seems. And his memory lives on
And you are right, it is about us.
Bunnie

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Liam August 26, 2012 at 21:53

I think you’re carrying on his legacy just fine my friend.

Your family are in our thoughts.

Liam

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Emsxx August 26, 2012 at 22:00

Lovely thoughts very touching! It was lovely to have been able to share that day with u all and hear the lovely things being said about a wonderful man/father/husband. He has left a legacy to be proud of in u all! Some fathers never take the time to do that! Indeed some great thoughts to ponder for us all xx

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Andy (Goodchild) August 27, 2012 at 07:42

Hi Paul – Just to say thank you so much for your thoughts and response to your Dad’s (my big brother’s) – death. He does live on in what you say. Thank you so much x

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Carrie w August 28, 2012 at 08:02

What a beautiful sentiment – moved me to tears. I will be calling both my parents today.

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Chris Vincent August 29, 2012 at 01:12

Beautiful! Thank you Paul for such a lovely tribute to your dad, my brother. He will be proud of you. xx

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Aaron Ritchie August 30, 2012 at 00:32

Paul i was there to support you and your family, i mainly knew David and Joe, but over the years i got to know all of you’s in your own little ways (facebook or social events) i have grown in those years to Respect your father even in those years i was only a child and met him as another parent. but my mother remembers him . . he was a good man and i honestly think that reflects in ALL of you’s . . i have grown up with David Goodchild and consider him as my own Brother, Joe the same . . i was at the funeral and your speech about your father was just asthonising ! ! i was deeply moved and got me thinking about how much i take things for granted. . honestly i have never been to a more meaningful and emontional funeral in my life and i thank you and the rest of your family for including in such a blessing family . . . Hope to hear from you’s soon !

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ROSA CELDA September 9, 2012 at 16:08

Hola Paul! he entrado en tu blog, y he vuelto a leer tu escrito, pero al traducirlo al español, he entendido más todo lo que dices en él. La verdad que es muy conmovedor. Yo no conocí a tu padre, pero conociéndote a tí, se que sería una maravillosa persona, porque tiene un hijo con un gran corazón, y eso es gracias a que tu padre te enseñó a querer y preocuparte por los demás. Sabes que tienes todo mi apoyo en este momento duro de tu vida, y voy a estar ahí cuando lo necesites. Me alegro mucho que formes parte de mi vida, porque personas como tú son difíciles de encontrar. Seguro tu padre estaría muy orgulloso de tí, no olvides esto.Un beso.

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