Roger Ebert’s Thoughts on Death

Written by Braiden Rex-Johnson on June 4, 2012

We all know that Roger Ebert is a great film critic. But in addition his blog–Roger Ebert’s Journal–has been named Best Blog by the Society of Newspaper Columnists and the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, among others.

He deals with many topics, but perhaps none as thoughtfully as the subject of death in an April blog post that’s very much in the Five More Minutes With zeitgeist.

In Ebert’s piece, he discusses how he had lost people close and/or important to him throughout his life (including his partner, Gene Siskel), and how much he missed each and every one of them.

But recently, he lost seven friends in a short period of time, and three in a matter of 10 days.

He says, “But these recent deaths have seemed to threaten my idea of who I am and the life I have lived. They are contemporaries. They are reservoirs of memory, and in an important sense all that we are is how we are remembered.”

He talks of losing two cousins within a few months of each other. And about recognizing a photo in a slideshow at the second cousin’s funeral. And how he realized that even though he was among a group of relatives, he was probably the only person there who could recognize “Uncle Ben” in that photo, simply because he (Ebert) was the only person there with a memory of him.

The closing paragraph pretty well sums things up,”We exist in the minds of other people, in thousands of memory clusters, and one by one those clusters fade and disappear. Some years from now, at a funeral with a slide show, only one person will be able to say who we were. Then no one will know.”

The blog post touched many people in addition to me, as witnessed by the comment string that numbers 244.

Do you think about and honor those who have passed away? Do you pass memories of their lives on to your children? How will you be remembered when the time comes? And by whom? And for how long?

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