Conversations about death and dying are often uncomfortable or avoided altogether. Lakeview Village retirement community instead encouraged residents, employees, and guests to reflect on death in a new way, focusing on what they hope to still experience or accomplish in their lifetimes. We strive to create a stimulating environment with meaningful activities, which is why we are participating in the Before I Die Project.
Candy Chang, an artist and urban planner, conceived the Before I Die wall. Grieving the loss of a dear friend, she set out to create an interactive space to allow anyone to share intimate, anonymous thoughts on a public chalkboard. The first wall was on the side of an abandoned building in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward. What started as an experiment has inspired more than 1,000 such walls in 35 languages and 70 countries since 2012.
Lakeview Village’s Director of Sales and Marketing, Colette Panchot, first saw a Before I Die wall in a park in Nashville, Tennessee. She knew it would be a natural fit for Lakeview Village. “I had never seen such a simple but powerful way for people to share their innermost thoughts in a constructive way. It also showed how much we all have in common. Lakeview Village is a tight-knit community, and many have embraced this revealing exercise.”
At the Heritage Place Activity Center, several large black boards with the words “Before I Die, I Would Like ___________” are filled with responses written in white chalk. More than a hundred answers appeared on the wall in in the month it has been on display, creating an inspirational piece of art. Some of the touching and humorous messages include: “Find a cure for Parkinson’s;” “Be a millionaire but with no taxes;” “Share the joy and love I have been blessed with;” “Learn everyone’s name at Lakeview;” and “Play Golf with Arnold Palmer.” Others focused on family, traveling, helping children and animals, finding love, and expressing divine love in the world.
Lakeview Village resident Doug Himebaugh wrote on the wall: “Before I die I want to be like Jack Miller.” Jack Miller is a long-time Lakeview Village resident, and Doug said he wanted to honor his highly respected neighbor. Someone later seconded his thoughts by writing, “Me, too.” “We have met so many residents that have astounded us when we learned their age,” said Doug. “Those who are mentally and physically active remain very young.” Now that is something to aspire to…