When I was little, my grandmother put on this very serious face and said “Alison, you never speak ill of the dead.” Her grave demeanor scared my youngish imagination into full force, with ghosts haunting and zombies strangling me if I said anything “ill” of them. As it turns out, my Angel-of-a-Grandmother passed down her credence to some folks in the media too.
You’ve seen this happen. A local reporter stands in front of someone’s house that was just in a car accident, murdered, or kicked in the head by a deer. The news station has no actual information regarding the incident, so the reporter shoves her microphone at the Neighbor and says something like this: “Gosh, she was great. Always smiling. Really cared about other people.”
This is the part of the post where I start hoping that God still has dial-up so Grandma (rest in peace, love you, please don’t move into my attic) can’t pull up Miss Early Bird on her iPad. Living people feel an obligation to hyperbolize the awesomeness of their dead friends and relatives. When I die, I don’t want this to happen to me.
If my death is five-o’clock-news-worthy and the Woman Who Saw Victim Shopping at Woodman’s uses words like “wonderful” and “amazing” or the word “so” prior to any disgustingly optimistic adjective, please call TMJ4 and correct her statement.
I do not want my non-existent, mediocre reputation tarnished in my grave. To make things easier for everyone, I have written a standardized statement for use on the Today show.
“Ali? Uh, she was kind of unsocial. Liked to go to bed early. A little awkward. Laughed at her own jokes. Never returned phone calls. She did have a pretty sweet blog though. Perhaps we should turn it into a book and her nephews can go to college using the profits.”
You have a chance to formulate your post-dramatic-death statement while you’re alive. Go ahead. Write yours in the comments section below.
18 thoughts on “When I Die…”
Where’s the dislike button? If, heaven forbid, you get kicked in the head by a deer, I would use that opportunity to tell everyone how much you love sleep (nothing wrong with that), how we share extreme awkwardness, how funny your jokes are, how you ALWAYS respond to text messages and how fun, smart and what a good friend you are.
Dearest Jenna, in honor of your dislike for this blog post, I came up with the following. I would be crying uncontrollably, so this statement would obviously need subtitles when it aired on Good Morning America.
Jenna had confidence. When someone said “smile”, I think she heard them say “make the ugliest face possible.” I counted on her for a good book recommendation, a catch up on reality television or a hilarious YouTube video. She will forever be remembered for her unmatchable solo performance of All the Single Ladies.
YEAH! I agree, double dislike!
Why kicked in a head by a deer? So morbid. So tragic. But in the spirit of this exercise, I would alter your statement to this:
Ali? She was pretty hot, probably because she went to bed early so she always got her beauty rest, not to mention time for her rock solid abs to, become more rock solid. She was quite the letter writer, once she learned to date her correspondence. And she always selected each forkful of food carefully…loading it up until she had a solid taste of each flavor, and then would proclaim to herself (and anyone else around), “this is going to be a good bite!” If only she would have tweeted more, I could’ve enjoyed her jokes a little more…in each 160 character nugget. And I didn’t even know she never returned phone calls because I don’t like the phone either.
This is fun! This is also fun-ny because the original intent was for a Commenter to write his or her standardized statement about what other people would say about him or her. But I’m enjoying the trend that Jenna & Allison have started.
To my dearly departed friend: “Allison died? I thought she was invincible. She worked hard in kickboxing class and in life, but I never saw her sweat. Her death is slightly annoying because now I have to find a new best friend with the same first and middle name as me who also has a sister named Kelly. She is always the most gorgeous lady in the room. This is not an exaggeration. You’ll know this for a fact after you see her wedding video on the ten o’clock news.”
I was right with you for two and a half paragraphs of your blog. Yes, I too snicker at how people are idealized after death. Where my view completely splits form yours is where you say, “When I die, I don’t want this to happen to me.” This is exactly what I want to happen to me. The moment my soul leaves for heaven, I want all of my quirks and flaws to be instantly forgotten. I want my family and friends to forget that I talk too loud when I am excited and that I retell stories because I have no clue who I already told them to. I want them to rephrase those faults with euphemisms like “she spoke so passionately” and “she enjoyed a good story.” What do you think it should say, Miss Early Bird?
As for my children, they are all simply perfect, of course, so there will be no flaws to remember. Those strangers on the channel 4 news, however, deserve brutal honesty.
Let’s honor each other’s dying wishes: I promise to forget all of your flaws, if you promise to read a list of mine during my eulogy.
“Gosh, my mom told so many inspiring stories at an appropriate decibel level. With her, you’d never have to wonder because she’d tell you exactly what she thought about that. She was a patient caregiver of her adult children that still slept over at her house, her grandchildren and a few perfectly behaved dogs. Her last request was to make sure that I got the Cookie Monster Cookie Jar in her kitchen. Thank you, Mama.”
I will be the first to write my own dramatic death statement:
Kelly? She was uptight… I mean a planner. She loved her boys, but really had no control over them. It’s always the teachers’ kids. She had a passion for TV shows like Hoarders, which made her feel like her life was completely normal. Did you know she still watched the Real World/Road Rules Challenge at 34 years old? I think she kind of lost her mind when her sister died tragically by being kicked in the head by a deer…
Miss Kelly, I hope you won’t be disappointed that I am not responding with a revised dramatic death statement for you. I cannot possibly match wits with your much appreciated and hilarious self-awareness. Hoarders makes me feel really good about my life too, as does Prison Wives.
Kelly, I laughed out loud at your reply. I’d also like to add that there’s no shame in waching the Real World/Road Rules challenge as a grown adult.
It has always bothered me that people refuse to speak ill of the dead. I’ve called people out on it more than once. If you were a jerk in life, I will not pretend that you weren’t, that’s the rest of the public’s job. I also think that all things considered, a deer-kick to the head isn’t the worst.
Tracy was a person. She had a job that she went to and responded to others. She was way too into Sharpies and loved a good ball point pen. While she has been referred to as “funny,” her main strength was her ability to speak to a large room without the need for a microphone. This talent was especially helpful in clearing a bar at bartime. It’s too bad she never got a tattoo.Tracy is survived by her bicycle and the mice in her apartment.
Tracy, thanks for commenting. Your statement clearly demonstrates your creativity and apparent funniness that you bring to everyday life. You also make me want to get a tattoo.
One more thing – as evidenced by the above comments, I think the “statement” of your death also needs to say, “She had some pretty amazing friends who loved her dearly.”
This is awesome! I’m pretty much in agreement with Sharon on this. I have no shortage of attributes that are better forgotten. But here’s an idea . . . How about if we don’t speak ill of the living instead?
I’m in too! By popular demand, upcoming blog posts will focus on LIVING.
I thought it was a good idea at the time.