Week 8 – Death, Dying, Religion, & Spirituality

Week 8 – Death, Dying, Religion, & Spirituality

A long-term goal of many is to have a career or lifestyle that allows them to positively affect the lives of thousands of people.  I don’t consider myself to be one of these individuals.  Through important experiences with friends and family, my travels around the world in the past decade, and the struggles I’ve overcome with the help of others, I have come to understand the value I find in fostering strong, personal relationships with a closely-knit community of individuals.  These relationships have shaped me into the person I am today, and it is the primary reason I am pursuing a medical career in the future.  When I die, I want to be remembered not by the masses, but by a very select group of individuals whose lives I greatly impacted.


While I strive to make people laugh and help those around me daily, I don’t just want to be remembered as someone who is comical or empathetic.  I want to continue to build on relationships I have made now, years into the future.  I want to be someone who was not just there for a person for a few weeks, but for years.  Being a doctor would mean forming incredibly close relationships and creating lives that individuals can live with happiness and strength, well after mine comes to an end.


And if people also remember me as the guy who wore cool socks, never ate a bagel untoasted or played music too loud in the car… that’d be fine as well.

36 thoughts on “Week 8 – Death, Dying, Religion, & Spirituality

  1. Your post made me chuckle but I also find I can relate to your legacy. I too, find immense value in investing time to form relationships with people. Theres nothing better than having someone to say hello to while walking on campus and ask you how your day is going. These simple interactions seem to lift me up when I’m having a rough day and I hope I can do the same for others in this aspect.
    Similarly, I chose the field of health care because I enjoy interacting with people and serving them during tough times in their lives.
    I also think you wear cool socks.

  2. Oh Jeremy.
    That was very well said. I agree with your statement that people either want to be remembered by the masses or that they really don’t care about that. I love your reasoning for not caring about leaving a legacy with the masses.

    I most definitely agree with you in that forming close relationships with people that will last for years is special. I think I am almost on the fence here, though, because I would love to be remembered by the masses as well and leave a legacy that would be remembered by millions.

    Most importantly for me, though, is the legacy I leave with myself. I want to be happy and healthy. I want to be there for my family and friends for as long as I can. I want to leave a lasting impression on the people I meet and form relationships with, hoping that they remember me as, simply put, a great human being.

  3. I found your post to be humorous and relatable, too. A major reason why I joined HSSP was because these type of valued relationships and communities that are so important to me. And although I don’t want to just be remembered for character traits someone could easily identify with out knowing me very well, I think we often forge some of the deepest connections through similarities or differences in personality.

    I’ve always made the claim that “quality is better than quantity” in regards to intimate relationships, and I still stand by this. However, I think it’d be really cool if in my lifetime my “quantity” would continue to grow without my “quality” having to falter.

  4. I agree with you that it is important to foster relationships and connect on a deeper level with people. For me, this is one of the many meanings that life has for me. Making connections is something that gives me energy and enhances my understandings of people and concepts from around the globe. It pleased me to read that you want to be remembered really well by a small group of people. I have always struggled with the concept of immortality and making myself live as long as possible by having people remember me when I am dead. I always thought that the only way to do this was to get myself into history books. However, you have opened my eyes to the new concept of making a significant difference to a select few people. Thank you for opening me up to this new perspective. It will help me a lot as I continue to think about the meaning of life and death.

  5. Like you I value building on relationships that I already have and creating deeper connections. It is extremely important to create those bonds with people, however I’d like to encourage you to think about the ways you can leave an impact on this world that could be remembered by the mass. I’m not saying that you have to leave an impact, but just having that mentality I believe will allow to think bigger and probably create or change something you never thought possible.

  6. I respect your goals for your legacy and I am happy that you know already at this point how you want people to remember you. That is crucial is helping you decide how to live your life and knowing the person you want to be. I generally agree with your post and have similar goals. But I am less sure of what I want my legacy to be. I am still figuring out myself so it is hard to know what accomplishments I want to achieve and how I want people to view myself. But, I know a few things. I believe that it is important to have a good impression with your family and close friends. But I also think that when my life ends I want to be happy with myself and know that from where I started to where I ended I bettered myself which positively influenced the people around me. I know I’m going to have regrets (I already do) but I want to know that I worked hard and made a difference. I want people to remember me as happy, kind, intelligence, funny. I want to be known as a friend, good son, good father, loving husband.

  7. I completely agree with your perspective. I think the quality of the impressions you leave behind has a greater value than the mere quantity of impressions you leave behind. I think of myself as a very personable kind of girl, and when I meet people, I really like getting to know them and having a good quality relationship. I’m a very heart-driven person, I do things based on my tendency to be nurturing and compassionate. If I am remembered only by a few of my closest friends and family members, I would be content.
    I’m pursuing a career in nursing because I want to care for patients and make a difference in people’s lives. If I can make a difference in one person’s life, then I have served my purpose.

  8. You put my exact feelings into words! For years I have been trying to make small differences in peoples lives with the hopes that they would benefit for a long time afterwards.
    Making personal connections is something that I value so deeply, it honestly the purpose of life for me. I strive to make meaningful connections with everyone I meet that will be lasting not just momentary.
    While this helps me now to make meaning of my life and hopefully help others with that as well, it is also a way to leave a legacy with other people.
    Hopefully the interpersonal relationships that I have created will inspire others to make meaningful connections as well.
    That would be the best legacy I could ask for.

  9. I too believe deeply that we should develop a deeper a deeper understanding with people.
    From the moment I decided that I wanted to be a doctor, I knew the reasons why. I never wanted to just make people better physically. Physical healing is an important part of being a doctor, this was not the most important aspect of the profession in my opinion. I have always wanted to be the doctor that has a relationship with my patients and the families. I want my patients to feel comfortable with me and to have confidence in me. I want my patients to think that I not only aided in bettering their physicality, but I also want my patients to think that I was a mental crutch. I want to be more than a doctor to my patients. I want to be personable to them in their time of need. I want them to remember that about me when I pass.

    When I die, my patients will be my legacy. I hope that they will think of me as one of the best doctors who had taken care of them. I hope that I can inspire some of my patients to be empathetic doctors, just as I tried to be.

  10. Just like you’ve said in your post, I completely agree that the first thing people say when they want others to remember them by is through impacting the lives of thousands of people. We look at presidents, scientists, and celebrities in awe because of their significant impacts on the world, but sometimes we forget the power that we can have on people in our close knit communities. I, too, understand the value in fostering strong, personal relationships especially as a future nurse. Nurses work with over hundreds of patients every year, yet despite playing a role in the patient’s overall recovery, what truly matters most is the one-on-one nurse/patient relationship that is developed during his or her time in the hospital. There’s something special about being that person someone can say “he/she changed my life” or “I couldn’t have done it without him/her” and that’s one of the reasons I chose to pursue a nursing career in the future.

  11. This is a very thought-provoking post, Jeremy. The concept of having a positive impact on people’s lives is very important to me due to my atheist beliefs. For me, once I die, that’s it. No promise of eternal life, no salvation, nothing. Therefore, I want to do the best I can to help people during the finite existence that I do have.

    Since is the only point in eternity when I can make a positive difference, I want to make the most of it. While I like that you want to develop close relationships with people, I want to go beyond that. I want to create or do something that positively impacts people who only know me by my name. I want a legacy that’ll last as long as humanity does. Call it grandiose, but I’m not looking for fame for its own sake. Rather, I’m looking to do something noteworthy enough for people to know about me.

  12. I agree with this in that I want to do something with my life that can positively affect others. I also think it is important to live life as your own role model. What I mean by that isI want to be someone whom I would look up to if I wasn’t me. That is incentive enough for me to be the best version of myself that I can be. I also like the idea mentioned in this post about living to be remembered by a select few and not by the masses. Some people want to live in fame and be engraved into society forever, which is all personal preferences, but I agree with creating a smaller community that I surround myself in to learn and grow as a person and that is who I want to be remembered by.

  13. I think I share the same goals as you. I think building good relationships is important because usually they last a long time and they will be remembered. Being remembered by a small group of people is a very achievable thing to do, but being remembered by thousands of people couldn’t hurt either. I think I would be content with just being remembered no matter the amount of people. Being remembered by a small community is like quality over quantity. I can relate with why you are pursuing a medical career. I recently did my observations and I got to see the relationship between the doctor and the patient. I think when I die, my patients will be my legacy too. There is so much that goes into being a doctor besides the medicine part.

  14. I can relate to your post on a number of levels. I also think that the most important way I want to be remembered is by the people I love and by the people whose lives I will hopefully have changed for the better through being a doctor, not by masses of people. I would want to leave a lasting impact on my family by being a good role model for my younger siblings as well as a good daughter to my parents.

    One of the things that I have found particularly attractive about the medical field and being a doctor is the relationships that have been foraged between the healthcare provider and the patient. These relationships are the ones where you have the power to positively effect the lives of people you would have never met otherwise and hopefully leave a part of your legacy with them.

    I want my loved ones to remember me as my goofy, sensitive, and unrealistically ambitious self and I also want to be remembered as someone who was there for anyone who needed help, as as I’ve grown older that has been a value that I’ve tried my best to implement into my daily life more and more. I think that being remembered by people is an honor in and of itself and I hope I leave this world having made others’ lives better.

  15. Your post was funny and relatable. When I was little, I used to want to be remembered by the masses and make a huge impact on the world as a whole. As I grew up, I began to value my close and deeper relationships with a few people and this shaped how I viewed the world. I want to keep the people closest to me happy as much as possible and always be there for them for support, comfort, and help. I’m not always good at staying in touch with people and maintaining long-term relationships with them, but like you said, I really want to be there for people for many years, not just weeks or months. By being a doctor, I can truly make a difference on my patients and their families’ lives and there’s not a bigger reward than that in the world.

  16. I think the legacy that most great people leave is amongst the individuals that knew them best, so I find your conclusion regarding this subject to be very applicable, relatable, and meritable. It certain inspires me to consider the impact and influence that I make, whether large or small, on the individuals that I interact with on a daily basis. Thanks for your post!

  17. I agree with your post and have similar goals myself. I chose to pursue a career in the medical field to have the opportunity to impact people’s lives. Similar to you, I would like to form strong and meaningful relationships throughout my life. In the end, I am most concerned with how well I did as a son, brother, husband, and father. Though I would like to have a successful and prosperous career, I would still consider my life to be a failure if I fail to form meaningful relationships. I joined HSSP for the opportunity to form meaningful relationships in a smaller community within the University of Michigan. I hope that I can continue to form relationships and impact lives throughout my life and career.

  18. As you have stated, I also think that many of us strive to make an impact on the world–an impact measured by the number of people we affected or the geographic area that our legacy covers. As pre-health students, I also think that we feel an intrinsic obligation to help/serve as many people possible. Thus, I find it very admirable that you acknowledge your desire to focus on strongly impacting the select important individuals in your life. I believe that by doing so, each of your relations will be more personal and have more meaning to them, whether that be on a social or professional level.
    In general, I personally believe that this is a good moral to hold; although we will encounter and befriend many, many people throughout our lives, it is important to hold close those who are exceptionally valuable in our lives.

  19. While doing this assignment I realized that I haven’t put much thought into my ideal legacy. I personally believe in reincarnation, and the idea that all humans are inherently connected through a process of birth and rebirth, sharing glory and shame all the like. Yet if I had to pinpoint something I would like to leave behind I think it would have to be my sense of self-worth. I live my life by the motto, “Live for what might be, not for what has been.” This quote means so much to me, and I think about it constantly. Life can be so hard on us, and at times it seems so ideal to just give up or try something easier. I know that I myself have fallen victim to self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy. Sometimes I find myself asking, “Am I really meant to be someone who does great things?” This is when my motto kicks me into gear. Instead of question my ability, I ask myself things like “Why not me?” & “If not me, then who?” I hope that one day someone looks at me and thinks, “She is like me if she can do it so can I.” I hope to give people the confidence they need to pursue their dreams, no matter how outlandish they seem. I want to be the type of person who inspires others, regardless of how I do it. At the end of my life, if I feel like I have encouraged at least one person to believe in themselves I would be able to go happily. And if not, that’s okay too, because I motivated myself into being whatever great thing lies ahead of me.

  20. I agree with your entire post. I find myself spreading myself too thin in terms of the relationships I form. I see myself having too many friends that I’m not close enough and feeling disconnected from them all. This has constantly made me think about my own legacy and how I would like to take control of it. I wouldn’t mind going down as somebody who was well-liked by a lot of people, but a life with a lack of personal connections is a life I do not want to live. This, like you said, is one of the main reasons I want to go into the medical fields.

  21. I agree completely with your post. Wanting to make a long term difference in life that changes others lives for the better is an extremely good goal that I would like to achieve as well.

  22. I like how you point out that a common goal for people is to be remembered by everyone. People say it so often it almost comes off as a cliche. I’m even guilty of wanting that, but as I grew up I realized that I cared more about the depth of the relationships I had more than the amount of relationships I had. When I’m not around I want close ones to talk about how I put them before myself. I want them to talk about the fact that I always tried lightening up heavy situations with a joke. I want them to talk about how most of the time, the jokes were not that funny. I want to be remembered as someone who made an impact on people. I want to give back to the community that raised me. My family has lived in the Toledo areas for three generations. That area has defined who I am today. When I become a doctor, I want to go back to Toledo and make an impact. I want to help people both directly and indirectly through treatment and charity. I want to make a profound difference to those close to me, while also helping other who need me.

  23. I really liked what you said about forming close knit relationships with a select few people. As I get to know more people here in Michigan, I am learning more and more about the value of friendship and connections. I like have a view close friends instead of knowing everyone okay. At the same time, I think we can have close relationships and can also leave an impact on thousands of people. As a doctor, we don’t just see the same patients over and over. You never know who is going to walk in the door in any medical profession. In this way I think being a doctor is the top of the list as far as professions that leave an impact on thousands of people. They spread their knowledge and save different people’s lives every day.

  24. I understand where you are coming from, I too would just like to live a quiet life and spend my free time with those close to me. I usually don’t care about knowing everyone but as I grow older I’m starting to see that I need to learn how to be more comfortable when speaking to others that I don’t know. I’ll need to tackle this eventually because as a health professional, you need to be able to communicate with your patients and let them know what’s actually going on.

  25. Jeremy,

    I share two very important characteristics with you mentioned in your post: I want to be a doctor to impact a limited number lives in a unique and greatly important way, and I, too, wear cool socks. I recently listened to the dean of the medical school here at the University of Michigan, Dr. Gay, speak about becoming a doctor, and he said something that matched what you said very well. He said that if a person wanted to impact as many lives as possible and be remembered by as many people as possible, they would become a teacher. They would educate the world and make it a better place. But, doctors have different goals, which you outlined very nicely. I appreciate your value of close-knit communities because that is exactly what a doctor needs to prioritize.

  26. Jeremy, I completely agree with your statement about making very close relationships with people and having those big impacts on a select group of people. There are a few people in the health field that I have encountered that have already left big impacts on my life and I strive to be like those professionals and I strive to have the same type of legacy you have mentioned. I think it’s very important to keep the close bonds you create now, or later.

  27. Jeremy, that was a very thoughtful response. I would just like to say that I share similar goals to influence a select few such as those that are close to me and not worry about influencing the masses. My personal goal if I become a doctor is to have every one of my patients walk out happy. My patients will be my legacy and they will tell their friends and family about how great of a doctor I was.

  28. I agree that many people want to affect thousands of lives positively or maybe even millions. I agree with you that it is important to affect the lives of people who are close to you and foster relationships. It’s very important to help as many people as you can, but I agree that being remembered by few who you greatly impacted is very important.

    I also strive to help people close to me and make them happy. I don’t want to be remembered as someone who pleases the masses or tries to be popular, but someone who is a true friend to those who are close. Becoming a doctor would mean forming these close relationships for me and I too would like to be remembered by these individuals that I greatly affect.

  29. I agree with your post in that I would want to be remembered for touching the lives of few in a meaningful way rather than being spread thin across the masses. Sometimes it’s the small things in life that matter the most. We don’t necessarily need to be well known and famous for our accomplishments, so long as we have done our duty to create a positive impact on this world. Just as you do, I find value in investing in strong relationships. The medical field is clearly a community in which close interactions are formed, and again, just like you, I chose this path to fulfill my values in life and my aspirations.

  30. I really like the way you reasoned your view on how you want to leave a legacy with only a few close people instead of trying to leave an impact the lives of big masses. I totally agree with the idea of building close and intimate relationships with a few people because having true and meaningful relationships is definitely better than knowing everyone around you but not having a close bond with them. Part of the reason I, and I think a lot of people, choose to go in the medical field is for that specific reason. Being a doctor allows us to affect the lives of many leaving our legacy in each patient’s life. Even though I do want to have these close relationships, I also feel like leaving an impact on a greater group of people is a privilege and an honor. I want to leave an impact on the people close to me and would also love to have a positive influence on the lives of as many people as I can.

  31. I really appreciate your perspective about what values to you the most, especially how you want to be remembered by. Personally, I can say I agree, but will put more emphasis on the importance of my friends and family. However, I have yet to have an abroad experience, which I expect to have by the end of this year, in Honduras, trying to help out the community and hopefully developing similar values.

  32. As I attended lecture on Thursday it did not get me thinking about death until later in discussion. I never knew about the various forms and different machines out there to prolong life. If I am to leave a legacy I will not want the help of the machines to keep me alive. I kind of want to go out in a bang, doing something that I love. When people look back at my life I want them to be able to say she may not have won everything but at least she tried. I want to impact someone’s life through my compassion and making them laugh. Laughter to me is one of the most joyful things in the world because everyone laughs. If I can make a difference in just one persons life for the good then I will die a happy lady.

  33. I agree with you that it doesn’t really matter what people remember you as If people remember me as the “person who wears cool socks” i’d be happy as well. I just want to have a positive impact on peoples lives and make people happy while I can.
    A legacy is weird because we all strive to have such important legacies, but in the long run we can’t impact the entire world. As long as we impact a few people and make their lives better, we are doing our job. In the long run it doesn’t matter how many people you’ve helped, but the quality at to which we helped. Even if only a few people knew us well, we’ve impacted hem and made a legacy.

  34. I completely agree with you about having a small but tight knit group of people. I have never been the most social person and i don’t consider myself to have a lot of friends that I truly value. I think we get much more out of our personal relationships when they are more individualized and more focused. While there is nothing wrong with sharing love with a lot of people, and of course you should always be friendly to everyone, but I’m of the mentality that I would rather have a small group of people that I love dearly than a bunch of people that I enjoy. I want my legacy to be of someone who people miss, and someone that people feel they have benefited from knowing me. If my life somehow helps someone else or enriches his/her life in any way, nothing would make me happier.

  35. I could not agree more! For me, that the impact we have on those around us is one of the most important parts of our legacies. We do not have to impact a large number of people to do good in the world. I can relate to you as I am also not the most social person, and it is my close relationships with my friends and family that matter most. I want people to remember me as someone who was fun and happy, but also as someone who they could go to for help. In my career, I want to be remembered as someone who was good at their job and cared about their patients on a personal level.

  36. Jeremey,
    The way you wrote the post is the way I believe people look at you in HSSP. It does take some courage to do that. I laughed at some things you said and thought about others you mentioned. These posts tend to be the most powerful. I also realized you when people write these posts, it is how they view themselves. SO besides the fact we think you wear cool socks, you think that too. It is an interesting way to talk about what you like about yourself. Also how you want to be viewed. So job well done.

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