Read This When I Die


This was the name of a document I rediscovered in my laptop files recently. Yes, a bit morbid, but on the bright side, I’m the one who found it…so at least I’m not dead yet! I clicked the file open, wondering what I thought was so important to write down for someone to read in the event that I was no longer alive. Better yet, I wondered who I thought would find this single Microsoft Word document hidden in some old folders on my laptop…hmmm…maybe I should see what else might be hiding somewhere on my hard drive.


I opened the file and read the words I’d written several years ago while contemplating life, death, and the meaning of it all. My mid-twenties self, wise beyond my years, or just being silly, had come up with a plan of action for my physical body after life.


When I die I don’t want to be buried in the ground. First, I don’t want to take up any more space on this earth when I’m gone. Want to talk about being sustainable, going green, and leaving no trace? Why do I really need to take up 6 feet of space 6 feet under with a casket that probably won’t be biodegradable? Nah. I’d prefer that my ashes be spread over the earth so that I can return to it and help sustain the natural lifecycle.

In addition, I don’t want to be put in a cemetery. Cemeteries are sad places… quiet, depressing, un-alive…well, dead for a lack of better terms. Why do I want to spend eternity there? You may say that it isn’t fair to my family if I don’t give them a place to remember me, but why would I want to subject my family to a regular visit to a cemetery? Why not spread my ashes somewhere we enjoyed together…like the Grand Canyon, the ocean, the beach, the trails behind Santa Barbara…or all of them! Spread me where we really lived! Then, to remember me, go to those places! Celebrate, enjoy the world, feel the breath of life, have fun, smile, live!

But who gets to spread me where? Once I’m gone, cremate my body and set up a registration system. There are no qualifications for this, anyone who cares about me can throw their name in the hat. My ashes will be split evenly among those friends and family, each person getting a small portion of me. Everyone can then take the bag of my ashes to where they wish to spread me. No memorial, no plaques, no gravestone, nothing permanent, just you, me (sort of), and happiness. Go to where we or you enjoy life, open the bag, and watch as the dust floats off in the breeze, giving me continued life and giving life back to the earth. If you ever want to remember me, revisit that place, think, and smile. Life is good!

Just my thoughts…I need to write this down somehow so that if I do die someone will read it and make sure it happens!

Christopher J. Clemens
June 10, 2011

NOTE: As you can see, cremation is a much better option for my plans. It would be kinda weird to send my big toe with someone to the top of Mount Katahdin, but a small bag of my ashes is doable. I’m not a dream hater though, so if anyone really wants my big toe for Katahdin let me know and I’ll make sure to save it for you!

I’m still not exactly sure why I wrote this out, but for some reason in 2011 I was reflecting on my life and considering the future. I decided that I wanted to live for happiness, and the only thing I wanted to leave on this earth after my life is memories. I believe this is even more true now that I’ve jettisoned most of my earthly possessions and my dreams are full of adventures that don’t include physical things. When I die I may not leave a great fortune, fancy homes, or expensive cars, but I hope to leave people who appreciated our time together, positive relationships, amazing stories, and smiles that will last forever. Live Free!

Chris Tarzan Clemens - READ THIS WHEN I DIE

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