I once asked a psychologist for her opinion of the list of thought starter questions I send guests before their Legacy Interview. She thought they were insightful but then warned me not to ask people about death during their Legacy Interview. She said “people avoid thinking about their mortality and by asking, you may make them uncomfortable.”
Something inside me resisted that advice, and although I approached more gently, I continued to ask.
I ask this series of questions during the Legacy Section near the end of our 2 hour conversations. By this point the guest has has shared many stories and feels at ease. When I ask “what do you think happens when you die?” It isn’t the final question, in fact it helps them bridge to their thoughts on the purpose of their life.
The answers about the afterlife range from answers about reuniting with family in heaven to the idea that death is like a deep sleep. Some people express some trepidation, but most have considered it, they just don’t talk about it often.
The answers that are more surprising is that almost everyone wants the same thing at their funeral; they want it to be a celebration!
Almost everyone talks their hope that people coming together to happily share stories and spend time together. Almost know one longs for prolonged sadness and crying (although most insinuate that they hope at least a few people are sad for a little while).
When the psychologist later recorded a Legacy Interview she chided me for not asking about what she thinks happens after she dies. Apparently the question had gotten her thinking and she had deep thoughts she wanted to share with her grandchildren, not to be afraid or sad.
Talking with guests about a seemingly taboo topic has helped me to realize that the human spirit does not desire to be mourned, that is a way of isolating the individual. Instead the spirit wants to be celebrated for the life they just lived.