What Happens When You Die? A Genealogist’s Perspective

into the light

Many of you may have heard recently that former FGS Treasurer, FGS Director and ISGS board member Kim Kasprzyk passed away this week after a brief illness. I had the pleasure of working with Kim at both FGS and ISGS and I admired not only her commitment to both organizations through her volunteer work, but also her intense passion for genealogy.

Having now witnessed the passing of two different FGS board members in less than 18 months, naturally I begin to think not only of my own mortality, but also there’s a natural curiosity as to what that journey out of life must be like and what can be expected on the other side.

Do you think that place beyond life is different for genealogists than it is for most people? I think it is. Here’s what I believe I’ll find “over there.”

  • There won’t be any genealogy research on my family lines.  Not one bit.  Because it will already be done.
  • I’ll get to meet all my ancestors, I’ll learn about their lives, I’ll hear their stories, I’ll have all the time I need to become acquainted with them and enjoy their company.
  • In an instant I’ll understand how that crazy puzzle I worked on for oh-so-many years fits together. And I’ll realize which parts of my research were accurate or inaccurate.
  • I and my genea-buddies will haunt and harass legislators and others who continue to block access to records and data important to genealogists.
  • Did I say no research? I mean none of my own research. I know I’ll be guiding my nieces and nephews and other descendants in their own journey to understand their roots.
  • And not just guiding my own family. I intend to push along all my genealogy friends as well. There will be Random Acts of Genealogical Serendipity and I hope to be the cause of quite a few of them. Someone has to make sure that book falls off a library shelf as you walk by, right?

On a personal note, the ancestor I most want to see again is my great-grandmother who inspired me to get involved with genealogy. Perhaps I’ll be able to tug the sleeve of her favorite cotton dress, catch a whiff of her favorite perfume – Emeraude – and maybe even try to scrounge in her purse for a butterscotch candy like I did as a child. I’ll hold her close and tell her, “Thank you for what you did for me and how you changed my life.”

And mostly I’ll be at peace and so will all my genealogy friends already over there on the other side. No worries. No concerns. We’ll have at our disposal the biggest library you could ever imagine. We’ll have a big genealogy party without end. We’ll laugh and we may cry, but we’ll continue to be reunited by our driving passion.

Genealogy doesn’t end.  It just keeps getting better.

[So what is your vision of a genealogy afterlife? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.]

Photo: Into the light, digital image by Somebody_ via Flickr. Used via Creative Commons License 3.0.

© 2012, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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