Can looking up the average lifespan of a woman in the country in which your mother lives and subtracting her age from it make you a better person?
No. You're still a bad person for not visiting your mom enough.
But if you then multiply the difference between your mom's age and her expected lifespan by the number of times you see her each year, the resulting number can be a sobering reminder of the fact that we all run out of time. If this knowledge prompts you to visit your mom (or your dad) more often, you may be eligible for redemption.
That's the thinking behind seeyourfolks.com, a new website that is garnering a fair bit of press for its effort to remind people that visiting your 80-year-old mother or father once a year could mean you will only see them two or three more times before they're gone.
"We believe that increasing awareness of death can help us to make the most of our lives," the website's creators say. "The right kind of reminders can help us to focus on what matters, and perhaps make us better people."
People can go to the site, select a country, punch in their parents' ages, admit to how many times they see them a year, and then get a simple calculation of how many more times you will see them alive.
A Canadian who visits his or her 78-year-old mother twice a year will see her eight more times, if she survives to 82, the average lifespan of a Canadian woman.
Equally sobering can be the fact that if your parents are 50 and you visit them once a week, you will see them 1,664 more times and you need to get out more.