By using today’s technology you can lessen the pain that your passing causes loved ones. All it takes is a little bit of planning and the help of a trusted friend.
What follows are observations and suggestions from people current, past, and passed about how to lessen shock and help people cope when you expire.
(1) You are the best person to tell others that you are dead. So do it!
Just proceed as follows. (Note: Though the focus in these examples is upon answering machine technology, the procedures are easily adapted to voice mail or any e-mail client with auto-answer capability.)
- Pre-record your own death announcement on a two message answering machine or on a spare machine if yours can only handle one message.
- Make your one most trusted friend the only one who gets notified when you die. When they get the notification, they activate your message. Other people find out about your passing when they call you, and they hear it directly from you!
Here are some possible messages.
“Hi, this is Sam. You might want to sit down; I’ll give you a second…..I died. Thank you for all the good times that we had, and I hope that you’ll remember me fondly. You can leave a message after the tone, but might not that be a tad superfluous?”
Or something like:
“This is Bev. I passed away. Thank you so very, very much for being my friend all those years. If there is anything that you ever wanted to say to me, please do so after the tone. But you do only have thirty seconds so please be terse.” (This latter message allows for the caller to have a complete catharsis if they can stay on point and be succinct. If not they can always call back.)
Important tip! Your most trusted friend must check the machine and erase messages so that the machine never runs out of message space. It can be very frustrating for a grief stricken person to just get four rapid beeps and a “Memory is full!” message when they want to talk. Your friend may want to check messages daily to eliminate all those stupid recorded calls from Rachel at the credit card company, whose passing we will all applaud.
(2) Spare everyone the pain of your death; keep it a secret.
Record a message like the following one, and have your one most trusted friend activate it in when the times comes.
“This is Ralph. I am so happy! I’m off on a spontaneous holiday with a fantastic woman that I met yesterday! She has completely stolen my heart! I’ll talk to you when I get back, which might be never if things go really well! I am so in love!” Don’t let people leave messages.
One problem with this approach is that your most trusted friend may eventually be directly confronted and asked about you, and they may not want to lie. They don’t have to! Here are some scripted responses to the question, “What’s up with Ralph? Have you seen or heard from him lately?”
> “I don’t know exactly where he is. I’m not even sure that he knew where he would wind up!”
If your friend buried you, this works:
> “Ralph really needed to get away. I watched him sink deeper and deeper into a hole that he couldn’t get out of. Not sure exactly where he went.”
If your friend scattered your ashes this works:
> “I just turned around one day and Ralph was gone with the wind! When I called him afterwards I got the same message that you did.”
(3) Be immortal! Stay alive forever partying in cyberspace!
This is a bit more involved than (2) above since it involves taxidermy, and assumes a certain level of physical fitness on the part of your most trusted friend.
- Prior to dying make arrangements to have your head removed and stuffed after you pass. You should be smiling slightly with both eyes open, and your head should be mounted on a base with a mechanism that allows it to be tilted at angles of inclination from plus forty-five degrees (you looking upward) to negative forty-five degrees (you looking downward).
- In addition to tilting, you will want your most trusted friend to be able to rotate your head 360 degrees in the horizontal plane. Since the typical human head weighs 8 to 12 lbs., most friends should be able to do the rotation. (If your friend is a bowler, for example, there should be no problems.) But if you have doubts about your friend’s ability to easily handle the weight, have your head mounted on a base that also has a ball-bearing swivel mechanism or that rests on casters. (The swivel is preferable because casters or wheels do make it possible for your head to accidentally roll off of a table, mantel, or mountainside. And it could leave tracks if left on a thick carpet.)
- Your most trusted friend now takes face/head shots of you against various backdrops from various angles in various caps and poses at various times! The pictures are posted on Facebook and other social web sites along with appropriate comments attributed to you. (Heck, this is how most people keep in touch today anyway!) By using appropriate hats and locales you can be shown in a variety of venues enjoying life and having fun. By using a dressed, inflatable doll with its head folded back and obscured by yours full body shots are even possible! All your friends and loved ones can just go on clicking ‘Like!’ every time they see a new photo of you posted, and vicariously share your joy.
Special tip: Make most photos blurry and out-of-focus like the crummy ones people always post with Android and I-phone apps. This both adds to the illusion of realism and makes recognizing the ruse even more difficult.
A question that does arise is, “What happens when your most trusted friend dies?” If he has a most trusted friend the deception can continue, and it can be better than it was before! His head and yours can be entrusted to this third person, and the two of you can now do things together in cyberspace! You can travel the world or even become lovers! The possibilities are limited only by the surviving friend’s mobility, imagination, writing skills and photography talent, and the functionality of the bases used for head mounting.
It is true that after several iterations of the above some poor best trusted friend is going to wind up with a lot of heads! But that need not be a great concern. Most of your friends will have already passed by then. And the few that haven’t will be happy with the occasional posted photos of all of you rehearsing in your barbershop quartets.