My Last Words: What I Want You to Do With My Blog When I Die Terri July 8, 2016 2 Comments A few years ago a beautiful, black blogger lost her life to suicide. She was only 22-years-old. When I learned of Karyn Washington’s death, I was hurt, confused, and saddened. I wish me, or someone in her community… someone in her corner, could have saved her. Don’t we all feel this way when someone loses their life to suicide? I remembered thinking, “I wonder how she wanted to be remembered?” “What will her community do now that she’s gone?” Although I didn’t know Karyn personally, I followed her blog, For Brown Girls, and I was inspired by her movement. What do Subscribers do When a Blogger Dies? This post is one of my most personal posts and I hope that it clearly articulates who I am and what I want my legacy to be. I don’t plan on leaving this Earth anytime soon. Sheesh, there’s so much I want to do! In light of the recent tragedies across the nation, I felt compelled to speak on this topic. Life is short and we live in a crazy world. The stark reality is that no matter how much potential, hope, or ambition we have, tomorrow isn’t promised. It took me a while to be at peace with this, but I am. I want to offer my subscribers, followers and Mocha Fam something personal that will clearly articulate how I want to be remembered. I’ve Always Avoided Talking About Death Let’s be real. Death is such an uncomfortable topic to talk about. I’ve lived life trying to avoid the fact that my loved ones and I will ultimately die one day, but avoidance doesn’t give you peace, especially when the media or any local news segment constantly reminds us of just how fragile life is. I went to my first funeral when I was around 8 years old. I wouldn’t call the experience traumatic but I will say that I was intrigued. A childhood friend of mine passed away and I remember seeing her little body in the casket trying to figure out what this meant for her. Where did she go? What would she do? When would her family see her again? When my dad passed away in our hotel room in 2007, I was traumatized. I had never lost someone so close to me. Someone that I interacted with on a daily basis. Someone who’s livelihood and being affected my life and well-being. I was depressed and it took years for me to heal. I had two major regrets when my dad passed away; I wished we would have talked about death more, and I wish I had taken more videos and pictures of my dad when he was here. What I’d give to hear his voice or a personal message from him at this point in my life. My dad and I always talked about him walking me down the aisle. I’d love to know what he’d say to his future grandkids. It’s the little things that matter most. My New Obsession After my dad passed away, I bought my first digital camera and began to document my life and the life of those closest to me. From hanging out with friends in college to busting it up with my family during holiday dinners, you could find me sitting in someone’s face with a camera propped up as I shot random questions at my “subject.” As soon as my handy dandy Samsung came out, eyes rolled, some would run, but I realized the importance of capturing those precious moments that would never revisit us, unless we replayed the footage. I became notorious for snapping candid moments and my friends and family unaffectionately called me “the paparazzi” of my inner circle. Regret Turned to Relief I have loads of videos and pictures on my external hard drive that capture some of the most beautiful moments that I’ll never see again. My nana passed away a few years ago and I often watch the video snippets I have of her singing church hymns and “being nana.” My Aunt Tootsie passed of cancer in 2012 and I have video footage of her sharing life lessons and hilarious family stories. Just recently, my family lost our Patriarch, my grandfather. I have several videos of him but my favorite is the one I recorded of him in the hospital in 2012. I asked him, “How do you want to be remembered Poppop?” He responded without missing a beat, “As a man of God.” Those moments give me life! Knowing that when I miss my grandfather’s voice, spirit and good advice, I can watch his videos and feel a sense of relief, is priceless. Knowing that when my grandmother is grieving and processing the death of her husband of 40 years, I can offer a video as a small beam of hope, is incredibly fulfilling. It obviously doesn’t bring him back but it helps with the coping process. A New Family Tradition My mom became a widow at the young age of 37. My dad passed away from a blood clot in his leg at 42 years old. As you can imagine, my husband and I talk about death often in our household. Not in a gloomy, depressing way, but proactively and realistically. My husband and I created our wills, we have life insurance, we have a file with our important account information and passwords, and we have those difficult conversations about life after one of us passes. One exciting family tradition we started are Legacy Videos. A Legacy Video is a personalized video of an individual addressing their loved ones and sharing their feelings, wishes, and how they want to be remembered when they’re gone. Legacy Videos can last anywhere from 2 minutes to 20 minutes. It’s totally subjective. It’s informal but special. Here are a few things that we include in our Legacy Videos: – A personal message to those who are closest to us telling them how we feel about them and what they mean to us. Typically we shout out parents, our siblings and grandparents -Although we have a will in place, we reiterate our wishes and funeral arrangements. For me, I want to be cremated and this is something I’ve told my inner circle several times. Gotta make sure my people know. -Offer comforting words for when they experience difficult times without us -Reminisce on fond memories -Share your wishes for their life. This is especially important for elders, parents and older siblings. In my legacy video to my siblings, I speak life and share with them what I can see them doing in the future. I think it’s imperative to encourage your loved one to pursue whatever career or path makes them happy but at least having your opinion about this area of their life can offer a sense of purpose and encouragement for them depending on where they are in their life. In Closing Life isn’t promised and longevity isn’t guaranteed. Please don’t brush off the death talk and tell your family members that “you’re not going anywhere anytime soon,” or promise them that you’ll never leave them. It’s not true and when you’re long gone, they’ll be left with a broken promise. Tell your loved ones how you feel about them while you’re here. A Legacy Video or even a written letter will mean so much to your loved ones once you transition out of this world. This is no time to leave your feelings to guess work. Get your life in order and make sure you have a will and life insurance, even if you have just enough to cover your funeral services. Think about how you’d feel if you could read a letter from your late grandmother or watch a 5 minute video from your late father with them reaffirming their love for you and providing encouragement from the grave. In my grandfather’s honor, I decided to share my family tradition with the world. Create a legacy video for your family members today. Check out my Legacy Video for my Mocha Fam and followers below! Terri Lomax Thank you so much for taking the time to comment Hadiya! I’m so happy to hear that this post gave you a fresh perspective on death. It can be a difficult conversation to explore but I’ve found that facing it head-on is usually more rewarding than avoidance. 🙂 Hadiya Brown I am deeply grateful to you for speaking about such a universally avoided topic. As a black American woman, I think about death or dying nearly every single day, and sadly many times it is not by choice. The ideas and very personal details of your life that you shared present women like me with a new narrative about accepting death and its inevitability. There is power in making the choices that you and your husband have made, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing them here.