No one chose to be with you. You never chose to be with anyone. You may have lived to be 80 years old, but unless you take “the plunge,” your death certificate will be almost identical to your certificate of birth. When you’ve lived your life, yet your death certificate looks like your birth certificate, it is almost as though you haven’t really lived at all.
Your children, whom you adore, and in whom you have invested a great deal of love, money, and time have NO PLACE on this final legal document that declares who you were. It’s like they don’t even exist.
This document takes no record of the person you’ve been living with for ‘X’ amount of years who knows your ins and outs, and more importantly, your dreams. If you’ve never legally chosen that person, and that person has never legally chosen you, the first line of this document, reserved for “spouse,” will be forever obscure.
It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in your life – how many countries you visited, how much money you acquired or the meaningful friendships or relationships you formed. Only the action of marriage makes your death certificate more than just a mirror image of your certificate of birth. If you’re single at the time of your death, it’s all about what you have never done, and your marital status is summed up by two words – NEVER MARRIED.
The first time I laid eyes on the death certificate of my late boyfriend, those two words brought me immediately to tears. Sure I was still grieving and this document was the final legal document declaring the source of my pain, but I will never forget how much more traumatic it was for me because of what I saw printed there. The life we had together, the time we spent, the love we shared, the daughter we adored – none of that mattered.
In the thick of my pain, I watched anxiously and with helpless fury as decisions were made that did not represent him. We were at their mercy. During his life, I was the first person consulted on matters of importance, but in his death I was demoted to a mere spectator of sorts. All the decisions that were made to honor his life rested on what he had never done, and he had NEVER MARRIED. It was the coldest piece of paper I had ever held.
By marrying, you’re choosing the person who will make the last important decisions for you. This person will determine how the story of your life will be presented to the world. If you don’t marry, these decisions will be made by someone who is basically a default, your parents. Your parents may not even be alive at the time, so the decisions will default to someone even more far removed. No one chooses their parents, and you may not have even been raised by them. You may have a great relationship with your parents, but they live elsewhere. The person making these final decisions should know you, not simply at what age you finally stopped wetting the bed, but really know you on an intimate level. It should be someone who is there by choice, yours and theirs.
People often say that marriage is just a piece of paper, but in our society, it’s so much more than that. Marriage is highly valued and encouraged because it essentially says to the world, ‘I Lived because I Loved and I was Loved – I WAS HERE.’