I once heard that every person dies three times.
The first death is physical, when your body ceases to function.
The second is the last time your name is spoken aloud.
The third is when the last person who remembers you dies.
I encountered this notion some years ago – from where, I can’t recall – and it has remained with me since. I think about it from time to time, not in a morbid way, but with curiosity and fascination. It prompts me to consider those who walked the planet before me that no one here-now can conjure up. I wonder about the conglomeration of unknown people for which there is no record – who they each were, what they were like, who they were important to, and how many of them there must be.
I think about the loss of my mom six years ago. It was her first death, because we still talk about her often and remember her vividly. In time though, all of us who talk about her and remember her will pass on. When that happens – when her name is spoken for the last time – she will die again, and when she is no longer remembered by anyone, she will die her third death and be gone from the earth, in permanence.
Eventually, this will happen to me, too. I will be a person – and a life – that the ones to come long after me will never know. I will die three deaths: in body, in name, and in memory.
If what I believe is true, we will regain the chance to know, somewhere on the other side – forever.