What You'll Learn At Your Own Funeral
What you'll learn at your own funeral
Have you ever been to your own funeral? I have… And it's an emotional experience.
No, I didn't pull a Tom Sawyer, fake my death and show up at my wake, but I did something pretty powerful once, something that changed my life. I wrote my own eulogy.
Imagine you've just passed away. A bit morbid and sad, I know, but there's a point here. From your passing, you have an incredible opportunity. Just like in the old story of Tom Sawyer, you are able to view your very own funeral. You can look down at your casket, you can hear what people are saying about you. All of your loved ones are there--your relatives, friends, and business associates are there, too. Everyone you've ever loved or who had meaning in your life are all there paying their respects.
It's interesting and even emotional to take this (giant) imaginary step into the future to see your funeral, to project how you want others to to remember you. When you put your own funeral at the top of your mind, see loved ones remember you, and witness your own eulogy, death becomes very clear and very real. And thus, we see how important it is for us to finally live the life we’ve always wanted, to love like we mean it, and to leave a legacy that our friends and family would be proud of.
“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”
-Shannon L. Alder
Reflect on how you've lived your life so far and how you want to live between now and your death. What good have you done? What kind of greatness do you want to achieve before you finally kick the bucket? What is everyone saying about you during your imaginary funeral as a result of you living that kind of life? Are they all telling inspiring stories that elicit laughter and joy? Is everyone remembering you for the incredible person you were, all of the good you've done, and greatness you've accomplished? Or is everyone instead talking about the football game they're missing out on, or that they're at your funeral because they feel obligated to be? What do you leave behind to your loved ones? What do you leave behind to the world? Besides the physical contents of your will, besides money, cars, property, and trinkets, what value have you given to those still here? Were you good to the world, someone who gave, or just kind of an asshole, someone who took as much as they could? Did you inspire and encourage others, or did you stifle them? What part of your being remains here long after you’re gone? What stories are shared? What good is to be had from your life?
You and your legacy are what you offer during your life, and what you leave behind is for the sole reason of benefiting others. But your legacy doesn’t just benefit everyone else. What you do to create that legacy matters to your well-being while you are alive, as well. Author and one of my favorite motivators Jim Rohn said, "Those who came before leave us the world we live in. Those who will come after will have only what we leave them. We are stewards of this world, and we have a calling in our lives to leave it better than how we found it, even if it seems like such a small part."
Base your life and create your legacy on what you want to see in the world. It's not important that you see your entire legacy fulfilled before you pass away, but what is important is that you take action to at least begin to create it. When we start to create our legacy, and act in accordance with our deepest core beliefs and values, we are more empowered, confident, fulfilled, and thus much happier for it. When others see us acting in accordance with our values and beliefs, they are drawn to us.
"I mean, they say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time."
Choose what you want your legacy to be. Are you creating one right now? If not, how could you begin? Remember that it should always be a labor of love, something you want to do with your heart. It should never be a burden. Spend some time thinking about what you want to leave behind and how you want to be remembered. What makes you tick? What are you passionate about? What brings you happiness? Usually, the answers to these questions point to what your legacy should be.
When you have the answer, it’s time to implement it. Ignite that fire in your heart and take the steps to create lasting change! If it is necessary for you to take small steps, take them. Just be sure that you are the living manifestation of the person you want to be remembered as. If you do all of this, if you are an embodiment of your beliefs and values, you will have many people, not just your family, celebrating your life at your funeral.
What do you want YOUR LIFE to be? Write out your own eulogy as if one of your loved ones had written it about you. What did you accomplish? What did you do for the community and the world? How hard did you love? Who did you help? What were the adventures you went on? Just like a real funeral, odds are, if you're doing this right, you'll be crying.
Now that you have your eulogy, it’s time to make it a reality and start living like you were dying!