Have you ever had the opportunity to really teach someone a lesson? A true 'I told you so' moment, one where they're clearly in the wrong and you get to feel good about yourself by setting them on the correct path.
Some might find it vain to be so self-congratulatory about it, but there's nothing wrong with celebrating an accomplishment. Well, with the stipulation that you have to do it right. There are proper ways to teach people lessons, with some people preferring to go a little overboard.
Family is important. That's a core belief that most people carry. In fact, family is perhaps one of the most important things we have. Our closest familial relationships tend to be with our parents or siblings, those we grew up in the same house with, but all members of our family who have a hand in supporting us or giving us space to grow within can be integral parts of our lives.
We can sometimes take our family for granted, so used to them being around that we can't even begin to understand what it will be like when they're gone.
Dealing with the grief of a loved one having passed can place a terrible weight on your mind and body, one that can feel impossible to push past. You're not alone in this feeling, nor are you alone in feeling stuck, but do know that there are tools that can help.
This free audio can help anybody rise above the feelings that prevent them from growing past what they've been through and evolving into new beings. All it takes is 20 minutes of your time today to create a better tomorrow.
One man decided to teach his family that very lesson, making sure they all understood exactly what they would feel if he were to die too soon.
David Baerten, or as he goes by on social media, Ragnar le Fou, is a 45-year-old Belgian TikToker who was feeling upset about the way his family had split up over the years. "What I see in my family often hurts me," he told The Times U.K. "I never get invited to anything. Nobody sees me. We all grew apart."
"I felt unappreciated. That's why I wanted to give them a life lesson, and show them that you shouldn’t wait until someone is dead to meet up with them."
To make sure they understood his pain, he decided to plan the ultimate stunt, faking his own death.
He spoke to his wife and kids about the idea, all of whom were supportive and who helped make the ordeal seem as real as possible. They even organized a full funeral.
The News Had Spread
His daughter started the ruse by posting a TikTok with the caption, "Rest in peace Daddy. I will never stop thinking about you. Why is life so unfair? Why you? You were going to be a grandfather, and you still had your whole life ahead of you. I love you! We love you! We will never forget you."
The funeral ceremony was held near Liège, with a large crowd of family having gathered to pay their respects.
Then, the most unexpected thing possible happened.
A helicopter swooped in. Once it landed, a camera crew stepped out, followed by Baerten himself.
"Cheers to you all, welcome to my funeral," he's seen saying before he's rushed by crying family members who are gracious to see him alive. Not all of them run to his side though, with some seen still standing at a distance, complaining that this whole event appeared to be nothing more than an elaborate joke from Baerten and his immediate family.
The comments on his TikTok capturing his moment of arrival are equally unimpressed.
"Now we know why people didn't like him," wrote one user.
Another replied, saying, "So true. Pathetic stunt. Even if I did like him, no chance I would be talking to him again after that."
"Boy who cried wolf. If he dies for real people may not show up to his funeral," noted another commenter, with many people echoing this same statement.
His Own Victory
Baerten himself seems pretty proud of the event, thinking it went perfectly.
In regards to the backlash he was getting, he noted that "only half of my family came to the funeral."
"That proves who really cares about me," he said. “Those who didn't come, did contact me to meet up. So in a way I did win.”
He wasn't entirely alone in what he was feeling either. Among the comments from people expressing how distasteful they found this to be, there were also some supporters.
Standing With Him
"It's sad that some family members only see you after you're dead," one person said, understanding Baerten's message perfectly.
"Feel like all he needed was a reminder that they loved him," said another.
Some really hoped this was for the best, like one commenter who wrote, "[...] I hope this stunt was not in vain. I really hope they are closer and hashed out whatever it was that was going on."
The Most Extreme
Even if Baerten doesn't regret what he did, and even if he says it fixed some of the bridges that were missing between him and his other family members, to say this was a good way of handling the situation seems a little generous.
It may feel vindicating to do some big life lesson like this, but putting your family through days and weeks of fear and sorrow just for some personal gain is no worthy trade-off. Instead, flex those communication skills and do some reaching out yourself. There's no problem that talking it out can't solve, or at least leave both parties on equal ground.
Getting the confidence to confront others and try to have a conversation like that can be difficult, especially if you're someone who's long since struggled with confidence issues. It's time to stop letting this part of yourself hold you back from better relationships and better experiences.