“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” Mark Twain
Who do you aspire to be? How would you like to be remembered when you die? How do you live your best life NOW?
I had a lovely Facebook experience recently. A friend wrote to me on my wall that she ran into a dog that reminded her of MY dog – therefore reminding her of ME. It was a nice note. Then a friend of hers, who was also an acquaintance of mine, responded to this little wall conversation stating “I know Amanda, she’s my old neighbor. Such a good person” Wow! Now THAT is how I want to be thought of… a good person. It just doesn’t get BETTER than that!
“I’m a good person, I hope. But I’m never as good as I want to be, never as nice as I want to be, never as generous as I want to be.” David Tennant (I’m a HUGE Doctor Who fan, FYI) 😛
In my current exploration of self, I’ve been looking for tools for my toolbox. Tools to help me figure out: My values, My priorities, My passions. This Facebook experience really got me thinking – If I were to die today, tomorrow, a couple of years from now or decades from now… What would I want said about me? My character? My deeds? My life’s work? How would I like to be remembered?
When my uncle Arnold passed away, my family asked me to speak at his funeral service. I tend to enjoy public speaking, but this request was surprising. It was desperately important to me to do my uncle, and my family, proud by giving a touching eulogy. The evening before the service during visitor hours at the funeral home I began gathering stories about Arnold. He was a nice man who did many kind things for those around him. It was easy to take note of his good deeds. Arnold was also a hilarious kinda guy; many silly memories were shared. We laughed together, recollecting his antics. Arnold’s eulogy touched the hearts of his family and friends by recounting his generous way, while it also had people laughing… remembering his crazy shenanigans. It was a truly moving experience.
A great psychological exercise exists to help us focus on our values – WRITING YOUR OWN EULOGY. Yup. You read that correctly. No, this does not have to be morbid. I swear! It doesn’t! How can we truly treasure every day if we deny that death can come knocking at any moment?
In a blog post I recently read, nurse Laurel Lewis says “Contemplating one’s own death is a spiritual practice. It can certainly be the focal point of any meditation or journal writing. A Buddhist would say that we should examine it with every breath. That may be much for the beginner. How about we start with twice a day: upon waking and just prior to falling asleep.” (Read this lovely post here)
Now. Let’s think about ourselves. I’m going to do this exercise this week. Shall you join me?
Picture a year from now… your own funeral service. Visualize your eulogy. Close your eyes and really get into the moment on this one. Trust me. It could be powerful!
THE PAST: Let’s start by thinking of the life you have already led
What memories and stories would your parents, life partner, children, siblings, family share? What about your friends? How about your co-workers from over the years?
Write this down! You have potentially created a beautiful list of personal affirmations about who you are and the life you have created thus far. What a gift! If you are truly brave, you can actually ask family & friends what stories they would tell or impressions of you they would share upon your death… I know. Scary! Vulnerable! Try it! haha
THE FUTURE: Now let’s consider who you WANT to be, how you WANT to be remembered…
Perhaps that’s already captured above, but maybe we want MORE…
Also, let’s consider how you DON’T want to be remembered…
- What would you like family/friends/acquaintances to say about you?
- How would you want to be remembered?
Again. Write this down!
Using these notes: WRITE YOUR EULOGY.
Write it as though your family WILL actually read this at your service a year from now.
Things to consider when writing your eulogy:
- Do you use first person or third person?
- Is your eulogy a goodbye, a inspirational speech, or a recollection of your life?
- What’s the focus? Your hardships, triumphs or an account of your life timeline…
- Remember to include your “blooper reel”… silly stories of your adventures or mishaps… bringing much needed humour to the proceedings.
- Maintain an optimistic tone… your family and friends will appreciate this at their time of need while grieving.
THE PRESENT: What does this mean for the NOW? What would you want the rest of your life to stand for?
- When do you feel you are living the life you want to be remembered for?
- How can you have MORE of that?
- Write a couple of SMART goals to capture the life you want to be remembered for!
I’m excited to walk the talk – I hope to sit in the gorgeous local cemetery in this post, contemplate a meaningful life, and write my own eulogy.
For those that know me, how would YOU remember me thus far?
Until next time,
Read, Write, Grow