Living the Sweet Life: Thinking About Your Transition


Alisa and James Edward Murray.

Alisa and James Edward Murray.

By Alisa Murray www.AlisaMurray.com Nationally recognized portrait artist and award-winning columnist.

By Alisa Murray www.AlisaMurray.com Nationally recognized portrait artist and award-winning columnist.

I want to get you thinking about something that most of you will not want to do. I want you to think about what you want to happen when you are no longer living. Recently, I got a call from one of my Alisa Murray Photography families asking if I could produce a piece of art for their mother’s funeral service. They had always known that when she passed, she would want my capture of her to be what people remembered. Everything that needed to be done was pre-planned, and her transition was a beautiful one.

By complete contrast, when my own mother was killed, it was a hectic time. You can imagine what a sudden death looks like: chaos and confusion. Mother did not want to be buried, but she was, because my grandparents could not go through with cremating her, and my father wanted us to “see” our mother in her casket. No one was prepared for her to just – “poof” – be gone. When my father exited his stage, I was in a photo shoot, and during lunch, I called to wish him a Happy Birthday, only to be informed that he had promptly and without warning dropped dead at home.

Death is something that happens to us all and yet, for almost everyone, it is a subject that few wish to discuss. It scares us to think about not being the only thing we really “know.” We don’t remember being a floating soul in heaven waiting to be given our earthly casings or bodies. It’s one of the things I need to talk to God about when I get there. I think if we did remember, there would be way less worry about leaving here. We would all know that it’s a transition to where we have already been, and it’s a cycle. It’s in the missing of the other souls – the ones we love, have loved and have a history with – that scares us more I think, so we just don’t think about it at all.

I know that this comes across as very matter of fact, and quite frankly, it really is. Many people have transitioned in my life, and I have some thoughts about the transition and more specifically, about planning the rest of your family for the inevitable.

Everyone should write down what they want to have happen when they go. I know you don’t want to think about it. Pretend that you are packing for a trip and will not ever be the same again. Think about your favorite things that you have acquired in your life, and make a list of who gets what. My Aunt Elizabeth was super smart about this and actually sent her diamonds to us, giving us specifically what she wanted us to have before she no longer remembered who we were. I like that. The last thing I want to have happen is all of my hard work acquiring beautiful things being rummaged through and fought over by those left behind. Nobody can argue if you wrote it down, and after all, these things are yours. Don’t you want to have a say in who gets what?

Next, think about your service. Do you want to be cremated? Do you want to be buried? Find a reputable funeral home, and get that done and paid for. When Nana transitioned, she had all of this done. She lived to 102, and nothing was left unsaid, unloved or undone. I like this, too. It’s why I always hug and kiss my family and clients and make sure that my last contact with everyone is something that if I were to transition, it’s “all good.”

I want to be cremated and have a large party. Afterward, I want to be placed in my Louis Vuitton bag. On my birthday each year, the remaining generations are required to enjoy a martini and pass down some beautiful story of my life to younger generations. I have measured the space. There’s enough room for two in my bag, and my love has no argument in being placed there with me. My son, who is 12, has decided that he will have to purchase a Louis Vuitton trunk, because he really wants all of us to be in one big Louis Vuitton and used as a piece of furniture amongst our family. Gotta love the way he thinks!

Take Care of YOU!

Alisa