Paul's Internet Landfill/ 2011/ End of Life Statement


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End of Life Statement

(Probably this should not be marked as NSFW given that people who are close to me should know about it, but I don't want to deal with the drama right now. I may reclassify this in the future.)

This entry is not an announcement that I will die soon. I know that I will die. I do not know when. I have had a will made, but the will is not comprehensive about my wishes.

I have also witnessed several statements made on behalf of dead people that they would not have appreciated when they were alive -- in particular, statements to the tune of "although person X was not a religious person and in fact said he was an atheist, he actually believed in Jesus and salvation". I doubt it will matter much much whether my wishes and intentions are followed after I die, because I will be dead. Nonetheless, I want to make those wishes and intentions clear, so that when people take actions against my wishes they are at least aware that they are doing so.

Since first creating this entry, I have had a will and power of attorney document made. The master copy resides at the offices of Shuh, Cline and Grossman Barristers and Solicitors, 17 Weber St West, Kitchener, N2H 3Y9. I have a (non-binding) copy with my important papers, and (non-binding) electronic versions on my computer (look in the ~/grownup/will folder).

As my wishes change, I may modify this entry; unless I explicitly write otherwise that a different set of wishes takes precedence over these, you should assume that the version of this entry I last committed to git is definitive (which should usually be the last version I published on the website). That leaves me open to deathbed coercion, but it is a risk that I have to take.


The correct terminology for my death is "he died." If I die via suicide, then the correct terminology is "he committed suicide" or "he killed himself". Unless backed by empirical evidence, I find pleasant Judeo-Christian euphemisms such as "he passed on" or "he is at peace now" or "he went to a better place" obnoxious and likely incorrect.


I am not Christian. At this point, I am at best a weak agnostic -- I do not actively believe in God, nor do I feel his presence in my life.

My preference is to avoid funerals, memorial services, or other death commemoration ceremonies. I have found death commemoration ceremonies I have attended while alive insincere and expensive, and I do not want to further such practices.

Having said this, I understand that death commemoration ceremonies are for the living, not the dead. If you hold one, then please keep it cheap, keep it informal, respect my lack of Christianity (and lack of Sikhism), and refrain from the phony statements of grief or hope. The vast majority of people were indifferent to my presence in life; it will be no different once I am dead.

I do not want my body embalmed. I would prefer not to have a coffin, and strongly prefer not to feed the funeral industry by having an expensive coffin.

In general, I dislike expensive displays of social status. Most practices of the funeral industry (the funeral/industrial complex?) falls under this category. I do not believe that spending a lot of money on somebody demonstrates that you are a better person, or that you care more for somebody than anybody else. I lived my life as a cheapskate; I hope my death will be conducted in the same way.

Even if you ignore everything else in this section, could you at least avoid a big funeral procession made of cars? Come on, people. You know how I feel/felt about automobiles in general, and about getting into cars in particular.

Body Disposal

Science and/or medicine are welcome to take whatever parts of my remains they find useful. I have no problem with my cadaver being used for teaching or research purposes. I have signed multiple organ donor cards and have approved organ donation on my Health card, so I hope those wishes will be respected.

I dislike both burial and cremation. It would be fine by me to put my body in the landfill with all the other waste if it were legal.

The general principle is that I would prefer my body to be disposed of cheaply and in an environmentally sustainable way. A landfill burial satisfies neither of those constraints, but is probably better than either traditional burial or cremation.

If people have sentimental reasons to preserve some small part of my body then I guess I can't stop them.

Living Will

I do not want any heroic measures to keep me alive. Assume that I wish to have a "Do Not Resuscitate" order applied to any interactions with the medical system.

Yes, I understand that there may be circumstances under which I might wish to be revived. I cannot think of them.

To the extent feasible (and affordable) I would like to minimize pain when I am dying.

The final decisions about these matters resides with those named in my Power of Attorney, but I hope that they will respect these wishes.

Appointing an Executor

If I have not legally named an executor for my estate at time of death, then I suppose somebody will have to be appointed, and/or somebody will have to volunteer.

If multiple people volunteer then an executor should be chosen according to the algorithm in Appendix A, where the "item" under contention is the privilege/burden of being the executor for my estate.

Electronic Data

As far as I know, my will does not cover the fate of my electronic data.

My electronic data consists primarily of:

Because electronic data can be copied cheaply, my general principle is that a copy of my data can be made available to whomever is interested in it.

My worry is that this will put past electronic correspondents into jeopardy. I do not care whether my email goes out into the world, but some of the people whose email I have received might, especially with respect to work email. This could get very complicated very quickly, and as of this writing I am not sure what to do about it. What follows are my best thoughts at a solution that respects my wishes.

My own creative works should be straightforward. Unless otherwise licenced, they should be released under a licence as close to the Creative Commons CC-BY after my death (but not before).

Any work that was already publicly available before my death should continue to be publicly available (again under the equivalent of a CC-BY licence). Note that this ought to include anything published in a mass mailing or public mailing list, since in principle anybody can subscribe to those things. (This may not be true in practice, however -- copyright law is complicated.)

I guess I will have to trust the executor of my estate with the rest. If somebody would like my data and there are other correspondents involved, the other correspondents hold the original copyright on that work and I guess that the requestor must obtain their consent. (How does this even work for email?)

If those correspondents are also dead then I guess the requestor must ask their estate?

I think any of my correspondences wishing to release their electronic correspondence after their death should be okay in doing so; my emails and other correspondences remain my creative work even if they are not in my possession, and so my previous release should suffice.

Scans of Financial/Legal papers

I have scanned in some of my financial and legal papers, and have some other financial records in my computers. Such materials either have the word "grownup" in their names, or they are in folders named "grownup".

These should not be released until the relevant legal and financial matters have been dealt with. If such scans are helpful in resolving the legal and financial issues then they should be made available.


This website is my primary statement to the world. Supposedly, I have lifetime free hosting on, which means that in principle this hosting ends when I die.

My preference would be that this website be mirrored somewhere after I am dead. Mirroring the static HTML should be fine, but I keep a (reasonably up-to-date) git repository of the source files on my hard drive.

Service Closures

I don't use many online services extensively. Placeholder services like facebook should be abandoned or tombstoned. The services that are most relevant are on my contact page.

Email accounts should be closed if feasible. I do not want them taken over by spammers, and other than short autoreplies indicating my death, I do not wish others sending email "in my name".

At this point none of these closures may be feasible, because I do not have a mechanism for notifying others of my passwords after I am dead, and I do not intend to reveal these passwords while I am alive.

With respect to electronic resources I maintain (for example, the KWLUG website and mailing lists) I have attempted to make sure that I am not the only person who knows the password.

Personal Possessions

Please return my library materials to the library.

As far as I know, I do not have any material possessions of much financial worth. Therefore the general principle is that everyone who is interested should be allowed to have my stuff, provided that there is no conflict.

Unfortunately, the legal system does not share my perspective. From what I understand, my material possessions are considered part of my financial assets; either they should be sold off and the value added to my finances, or their financial value should be used in distributing my estate. This is silly; I estimate the market value of all my possessions probably works out to less (maybe much less) than $2000. Therefore my wishes are as follows: in my will I have given my executor a share of my estate (on top of the fees that executors are allowed to charge for carrying out the will). My wish is that the executor should claim as many of my material possessions as possible as his or her share of the estate, and then redistribute those material possessions as indicated below. My hope is that I have allocated a large enough share of my estate to the executor that he or she will get some money as well. If I do end up having some possession that is of large value, then the course of action is up to the discretion of the executor.

If possible, my possessions should be redistributed relatively soon after my death -- say after a month? This gives others the opportunity to make claims on my stuff if they wish.

If there are conflicts over who gets some set of my material possessions then the conflicts should be resolved according to the algorithm in Appendix A below.

Anything that is not claimed should be disposed of as responsibly as possible: reused if feasible, then reclaimed/recycled/composted, and finally thrown out if there is no other alternative.

Financial/legal papers

I guess that financial and legal papers have a special status and must be treated separately. They can be kept in the possession of the executor, whom I believe is responsible for dealing with financial matters after I die.


My finances are pretty simple. As far as I know, as of this writing I have no outstanding debts except:

As far as I know, my assets currently consist of:

I expect there will be expenses as a result of my death:

I do not know how much these things cost, but I am hoping that whatever savings I have will cover them.

If there is any surplus, then the surplus should be distributed as outlined in my will.

Appendix A: Resolution Conflict for Personal Possessions

I am hoping that there will not be conflicts over my personal possessions, but if there are then here is an algorithm for resolving disputes.

If it is possible to replicate the item's data (for example, scanning in some writing) then this should be done and each disputant should get a copy.

Otherwise, the people in dispute should assign themselves to the first set below for which they satisfy the constraints:

  1. Intimate partners: people who have had sex with me three or more times overall, and who have had sex with me in the last three months prior to my death. To define sex, use the Canadian Blood Service definition: sex is defined as any contact between {mouth, anus, genitals}, excluding mouth-mouth contact.

  2. Legal partners: people who are in marriage or common-law relationship with me that is recognized by the government.

  3. Meatspace correspondents: those who have had face to face contact with me at least once in the last three months prior to my death.

  4. Electronic correspondents: those with whom I have exchanged correspondence electronically. I define this as one person having communicated to the other, and the other person responding. For forums where people tend to communicate in group and not pointwise fashion (web forums, newsgroups) define correspondence as all co-participants in a thread I have participated in.

  5. Family members, defined as having a distance of two or less in the graph I define below.

  6. Anybody who does not qualify for any other set.

For each disputed item, do the following:

I am hoping there will not be many disputes about the definition of "item". I would consider a set of things (e.g. the top and body of a popcorn popper, the components in a canning set) to consist of one item. If you are splitting hairs over these definitions then you're doing it wrong!

Relationship Graph

The graph is defined as follows:

Now compute the number of edges between me and any claimant on this graph.