Life, Death, and Memento Mori
Death is something I’m noticing more these days.
Just over two years ago, I lost my friend Tim. A friend of mine lost his father recently. During the holidays my University of Florida community suffered a loss, Ed Aschoff died at 34 years old. And of course this week Kobe Bryant died at age 41. I’ve been lucky thus far that no one close to me in my family has passed away, but these circumstances have made me think a lot about mortality.
I am reminded that the next day is not promised – not yours and not mine. One of my favorite writers, Ryan Holiday, carries around a Memento Mori coin/medallion. Memento Mori in Latin means ‘remember that you must die’. It’s an artistic or symbolic reminder for each of us of death’s inevitability. The Stoics were right: no matter what we do in this life, death comes for us all.
However, just like a car purchase or retirement, if there is a high or certain likelihood that it is going to happen, it’s good to take practical steps to plan for it. For your own peace of mind and for the care and wellbeing of your family, please consider the kind of lives you’d like them to have after you are gone. How can you put them in the best position, financially and spiritually, to go on living? Here is a checklist of must-do items to be properly prepared:
- Have term life insurance. I am not a Dave Ramsey apologist, but his thoughts on term life insurance versus whole life ring true to me.
- Review and adjust as necessary ALL your beneficiaries on various accounts (insurance, retirement, mutual funds, banking, etc.).
- Create a list of accounts with usernames and passwords, and make sure those closest to you know where to find it.
- Update or create a will, a living will, and a medical/general power of attorney (these are ALL different things), and go over them with your significant other and close family/friends.
- Get a yearly physical or go one step further. Here is my health plan for 2020.
Last but certainly not least, consider your spiritual life. When life gets busy, it’s often our spiritual lives that become most neglected. If you believe in a higher power, don’t put off “being right” or in good standing with that higher power. I was comforted to hear that Kobe Bryant and his daughter had attended Sunday Mass (at 7am) before boarding the helicopter for their trip and that the Bryant family were regular churchgoers who were engaged in their faith.
- Put a plan together to address your death. Start with the checklist above.
- Consider keeping a personal item in your pocket or at your desk that represents Memento Mori.
- Spend some time reflecting on your relationships and spiritual legacy. What are you hoping to leave behind for others besides worldly possessions?**