Writing Your Own Eulogy

Posted on November 26, 2008. Filed under: Spiritual Musings | Tags: , , , |

Writing Your Own Eulogy

I don’t necessarily have an obsession with death; at least not a morbid obsession.  Ever since I began my pilgrimage with the Christian faith I have come to terms with the fact that death is merely a transition from one reality to another.  I’ve also come to realize that your actions in this life have an effect that goes beyond what you can see at the time.  Upon becoming a parent I’ve learned that the way that you lead your life and the things that you teach your children literally mold the future. 

I’d recently done some soul searching, reexamining my life and the way that I’ve treated people.  I came to the conclusion that I didn’t like the path that I was taking.  I was falling victim to the abrasiveness and lack of compassion that I had sworn off 10 years ago. 

Since then I’ve tried to work on maturing again.  I’ve come up with some ways to help continue this growth in my life and what I’m presenting to you today is the most recent. 

I was watching a DVD the other day and one of the characters was attending a funeral of a former friend.  He was asked to perform the eulogy and he can’t really think of anything nice to say.  That got me to thinking, what would someone say at my funeral?  What would be my legacy that I leave behind?  How would I be remembered and how would I have impacted the lives that have come my way?

I think at one point or another we all ask ourselves how we’d like to be remembered.  Writing your own eulogy is the perfect chance to do this.  I’m writing my own eulogy because after doing some meditation and contemplation, I believe I know what I would like to be said about me, realistically.  Perhaps it will give you and me a template of the things we need to strive towards in our lives.  Consider it a spiritual exercise.  Be realistic:  none of the, “It was so awesome that he won the lottery” or “she was the greatest humanitarian since Mother Theresa”.  While either one of those may be true for most of us it doesn’t fit in with reality.

Please, let me know if you try this out for yourself.  Do some self-examination and see if what you’d like to be remembered for is actually who you are.  If it’s not, how are you going to change to become that person you’d like to be known as?  The 2 keys are practicality and honesty.  That being said, here is mine:

“We come together today to remember the life of Rob.  As a community we celebrate the love and vibrancy that he has brought to our lives.  He was born December 16th 1976 to Louise and Larry in St. Louis, Missouri.  He deeply admired and adored his parents, two of the people who were most influential to the man that he would become.  They taught him his values and showed him that he can overcome adversity if he was willing to try.  He was always grateful for the lessons they taught him. 

“Rob was born into a family where affection was freely given by his parents and that was something that he passed down to his children.  He was always showing his kids how much he treasured them and thoroughly enjoyed playing with them or just snuggling up with them to watch cartoons.  He loved to take them to new places and treasured showing them the varieties of life.  He always got such a kick out of watching them gaze in wonder at their ever expanding world. 

“He was always enthusiastic about whatever activity his children wanted to do, supporting them each step of the way.  He tried everything within his ability to give them everything that they needed…and some of the things they wanted.  He taught them the values of hard work and perseverance, even the oft neglected value of sacrifice for the benefit of others.  Rob believed that in this world there are very real rights and very real wrongs along with plenty of grey areas.  He instilled this in his children teaching them to defend the defenseless, love the unlovable and to cherish those gifts which God has bestowed to us. 

“Rob was deeply in love with his wife Marcia.  He wasn’t always the best husband, but, who is?  He tried to do his best to make his wife proud of him and he worked every day to find new ways to make her happy.  She stood by him through the worst times in his life and was the shoulder he could always lean on.  He did his best to show his appreciation and to express his gratitude for her never giving up on him.  When it comes to the old saying, “She is his better half”, Rob believed it.  He knew she bolstered his weaknesses and added to his strengths.  As he always said, “The woman that I’m in love with now, is not the woman I first loved.”  This was due to the ever increasing love he felt for her as they grew together as a single entity and as he proudly watched her grow into the woman that she is today.

“I guess if we had to label Rob and put him in a box, we’d call him a “Taoist-Roman Catholic-mystic-pilgrim-theologian.”  At least that’s what he strove for.  Rob believed that the Kingdom of God is present in our midst and is not set for some future time.  Springing forth from that belief he did what he could to love others as God loved them and to show all of God’s creation the adoration that God has for it.  He was known for his empathy for those who were suffering and those in need knew that he was someone who could be counted on to be there.  He would give the shirt off his back if he knew that it would lead to the alleviation of someone’s suffering.  Although he at one time had shown a blasé attitude to pretty much everyone and everything, his heart was transformed into one that deeply cared about the weak and the desperate.

“He realized that this Creation is a gift from God and cared about keeping it as a sacred space for those to come in the future.  He wished to pass on a legacy of caring for the world around him to his children and his grand-children.  He longed for peace in the world and in the personal lives of those he’d met.  He sought reconciliation between himself and those he’d wronged; he also sought to reconcile those that had wronged others to those that had been wronged as he believed, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”

“We all know how much Rob loved theology and philosophy.  When he was younger his zeal often got in the way of him explaining eternal and spiritual truths.  As he matured he learned how to teach and nurtured a gift for making large concepts small enough for the everyman.  Rob would explain with excitement to people who were often eager and willing to listen, those grand ideas that he thought were eternally important 

“Rob was one that we knew we could count on to listen to us and hear what we were trying to say, whether we vocalized it or not.  It seemed as if he would hang on to your every word as you told him what was on your mind.  He exhibited a genuine concern for our spiritual and emotional welfare and often knew what to say (and even when to stay silent).  It was a discipline which he set himself towards after coming to the realization that he was often missing what was truly in a person’s heart. 

“Rob was always trying to find a good balance between social justice and spiritual discipline.  He believed that too often people tended to fall on one side or the other.  He worked hard until the day he died to discover that middle road that so many Saints before him had come to find.  He believed he needed to work tirelessly at this to make up for all the time that he had lost thinking and pondering upon frivolous issues.

“Rob did not fear death.  What he DID fear was being forgotten once he’d passed on.  The light that he was able to bring to other people’s lives has ensured that he will live on in our memories.  He left an impact on all of us and we will never forget him, so in that way, his fears have been allayed.  Rob we will miss you but we know that your spirit lives on.  The ripples in the pond of this reality will carry on forever.  We’re thankful to have known you and we are inspired by your love and compassion.  You learned to live fully human and are someone God and all of us can be proud of.  Know that to this day, your love is still felt by all of us and rest easy in the fact that we all love you too.  Goodbye Rob, we’ll meet you again in the highest of realities.”

I hope that I did not come off as pompous or overly eager.  Once again this is an exercise in being the person that I pray I am one day able to become.  That’s not to say I’m completely lacking in all of these qualities I expressed above.  They are merely the end points on the map of my pilgrimage through this life.  Now that I have it down in writing, I can continue to refer back to it throughout the years and work at becoming the man I hope to be remembered as.

If you end up using this as a tool for yourself, please leave it as a comment or email it to me.   My hope is that other people are able to find this to be a useful tool in mapping out improvements in their lives.  I’d just like to hear from those who are on this journey with me.  And, maybe we can help support each other in the process. 

Peace be with you.

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