A couple weeks back I talked about the concept of designating items for people to donate in your honor, based on the inspiring story from the teacher who requested filled backpacks for her students at her funeral. To highlight the beauty of this, they placed one backpack at the start of each pew in the church, creating such a wonderful memory for everyone.
(This is where “taking it up a notch” in every way makes such a difference. You don’t just collect backpacks and store them in a closet somewhere. You figure out a way to display them so that inspiration can happen!!)
Another idea is to designate a volunteer activity for people. Preferably it’s something close to your heart. Ideally, a cause your people know meant a lot to you. But since ‘ideal’ is often elusive, it doesn’t matter! Surprise your family and friends with some cause they never knew you cared about! And be a champ by jotting down somewhere (like your last wishes plan) why you care about this particular cause, and maybe even why you kept it to yourself. 😉 No obligation, of course. Depends on whether you’re the kind of person who likes a tidy resolution or someone who loves mystery.
And this is really quite easy to do. Many causes have obvious ways to help.* You can do the obvious or you can make it even more personal.
Here’s one example, which I’m making up as I write.
Local food bank
• A designated day when your peeps work at the center together. (And then go out together after to celebrate!)
• A week- or month-long drive to accumulate an impressive number of volunteer hours of help given by your loved ones.
• Designating something that the organization needs, like a new fridge, new tables, better storage shelves, etc., and have a drive done in your honor to get that thing(s)
• Maybe instead of some purchased good, the organization needs publicity, or fresh paint, a deep, through cleaning, office work. Take on volunteers to get that done, which can include asking the general public to pitch in, too. People don’t have to know the deceased to be inspired to give of their time.
• Ask for someone — even if it’s just one person — to commit to being a regular volunteer for a period of time (a month, a year, whatever you want)
• Think of some way the organization could upgrade how they help, maybe something they’ve always wanted to do but don’t have the manpower, money, resources, etc. for, and you be the one to ask your peeps to pull if off — whatever it is.
• Have a fundraiser (party), created in your honor, and if all goes well it could become an annual event! Talk about a legacy.
Whenever I spend time brainstorming this kind of stuff I am overwhelmed by the fantasy of “What If This Were THE NORM” — that every time someone died we did some awesome project in their honor, to help some group of people, anywhere on the planet, for any reason, based on that person’s personality and wishes.
I can’t give up on this. I really, really, want this to spread.
*Forgoing the simple donation of money here. That is already a widespread practice. And while it’s a wonderful thing, I Want a Fun Funeral is more about hands-on ways to celebrate a life.