Observations of an Executrix

Charlene Norman
3 min readMay 29, 2023

My eldest brother passed away a few weeks ago. He joins my two other brothers and parents and leaves me as ‘the last one standing.’ (Which is an experience I never expected.)

I am his executor, and I’d like to share some of the lessons and awakenings I have now seen play out several times. Even if you never play executor, there is a big chance that you will encounter at least a few of these one day.

As background, I have played executor twice before. Both times were relatively easy because there were no assets. This time, I need to have a lawyer and accountant on standby because his sons will inherit some value. So, tracking down and keeping a trail of receipts, people, assets, businesses, and such are vital. And doing it all by the book makes everything so much easier.

Observation #1

Each and every one of us is a multi-faceted diamond, and we only show a few facets at a time to most people. In other words, we all hold something back and keep it private. None of us share absolutely everything about our lives with everyone.

That’s why funerals, wakes, and memorials are so often the perfect places to learn about the other sides of our loved ones.

Observation #2

No matter how well we believe, we know someone, at least one thing will always shock or surprise us. Always.

Observation #3

Our families LOVE to hear about the good we do in the world. Our families LOVE to hear about the happiness we bring to others. Our families LOVE to be proud of us — in death just as much as in real life — and especially when they don’t know all the facets of the diamond.

Observation #4

There is no place for judgment when someone has passed. There is also no place for sarcasm, ridicule or derision. Everything that once was ended. Leave it all alone on the rubbish pile.

Observation #5

Whoever we leave behind needs closure. So while we say we don’t care about what arrangements get made ‘because we’re dead anyway’, we need to give every kind of courtesy to those we will eventually leave behind. Even something as simple as ‘I trust you to do what’s right’ is far more effective than ‘it doesn’t matter.’

Observation #6

Funerals, wakes, and memorials are for the living. So even if the deceased wanted ‘nothing’, the living are free to have what they want.

Observation #7

Money, wealth and possessions have absolutely no bearing on our true value to the world. The best way to measure our true value is to look at the people we keep in contact with AND the frequency.

In other words, our family, extended family, neighbours, work colleagues, and club or union affiliations tell a much better story than the number of zeros on the bank statement or the number of creditors one owes money to.

Observation #8

Forgiveness is the true key to peace. Forgetting is never possible. The two concepts are very, very different. And yes, one can be at peace and still never forget the bad.

Observation #9

All bad memories fade at least a little over time. All good memories shine brighter. Our own peace of mind and comfort lies with the latter.

Observation #10

If there is someone in your life TODAY you have not made peace with, made up with, forgiven or reached out to in a very long time, do it today. It is not necessary to cloak ourselves in the mantle of martyr until we, too, are no longer here.

If you have not had a conversation with someone about what you want to happen after you die, please move that conversation to number one on your priority list.

And if you don’t have a will in place and you have dependents OR are over 50, what on earth are you waiting for?

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Charlene Norman

Inspiring good humans to make a difference for all on Planet Earth. Podcast host, author, and community leader. Fanatical about change for the highest good.