At first glance, talking about death doesn’t seem to have any thing to do with minimalist living. I’ll be honest, I hate talking about death. I can’t stand thinking about getting older, my parents being gone, and time just getting closer to the end. My hope is we’ll either create an immortality drug, invent a stopwatch that can freeze time, or for my religious-minded side, Jesus comes back and I’ll just float into the sky when the world ends.
But until either of those possibilities happen, death is a reality we’re all going to have to accept. So it’s important as we practice our minimalist living that we talk about death, and here’s why.
1. Your Stuff
Have you ever had to move somewhere? You remember how stressful it was to pack up and move all your stuff. Think about all the items you own and imagine that kind of stress being passed on to your family whenever you die.
In my personal experience, I had a family member who had to figure out what to do with a house when another family member passed away. And even worse, there was an unsettled legal dispute that needed to be resolved. It was a very difficult time for my family. And this situation taught me that I’d never want someone I cared about to feel that kind of stress.
So what can we do to make this less difficult for everybody?
- You can write your will. If you give everybody instructions on what to do, they don’t have to think about how to handle all the stuff you left behind. Tell them it’s okay to throw it all away or sell it. If you don’t let go of your stuff. your family won’t, because your possessions will feel like a part of you they don’t want to lose.
- You can actually choose not to have that much stuff left behind. If you’re practicing minimalist living, you already know you don’t have any reason to keep much around you. But if you’re not, give away some of your stuff to people who can enjoy them long after you’re gone.
- Consider living with one of your family members when you’re older, so there’s no apartment or house that has to be worried about. Think about how much trouble you know your home can be. Let that motivate you not to make that anyone else’s trouble.
2. Your Life
It’s more than just your stuff you have to think about. When you think about death, you have to think about how you want your life to turn out. It’s been said many times that people close to death most regret not the actions that they did, but the actions that they didn’t do.
Here’s 3 big questions you should be able to answer for yourself.
What do you want your biggest accomplishments to be? I want to say I accomplished my dream of becoming a successful writer, my goal of making my health the best it can be, and enjoying a long-lasting love relationship all the way to the end of my days. Even if you don’t end up accomplishing all of your desires, at least be able to say that you tried the best you could.
What have you always wanted to try once in your life? I hope to make an album once in my life, because I’ve always had a joy for making music since I was little. I also want to maybe perform in a concert with a band someday too. It’ll make for a great story if you can do one of the experiences you’ve always wanted to try
How do you want to be remembered? I want to first be remembered as somebody who was very kind, and then secondly very wise. I hope over the course of everything I write, I pass down knowledge that inspires generations of people to treat everybody well and live a better life for generations to come.
3. Your Loved Ones
Throughout our life we’re going to have many imperfect relationships. In fact, all of them will be imperfect. Some of you might be estranged with your family right now, or distant from former close friends. We have the power through minimalist living to minimize that negative energy, and make it into something positive beyond our death. You can have something nice written down that can be a way of making peace with those people.
When your life ends, all that negativity you had with someone isn’t going to matter anymore. You can do something incredibly kind by giving that person the peace of knowing you didn’t leave this world angry at them. That kindness can inspire them to treat everyone else better the rest of their life. A simple gracious action making a lasting impact in the world.
Thinking about death is the last thing most of us want to think about. But we have to take time to think about it for the good of our loved ones. They’ll have enough trouble mourning you, but you have the power through minimalist living to save them from being even more troubled with your belongings.
And just think, with that stress taken away they can focus on mourning, and then go on to do wonderful acts in life in honor of you.