At your funeral, what will be said about you?
I remember receiving this question at a Holistic Management workshop in my early 20s. It was a suspension-of-time kind of question.
It’s hard to determine if it was my age or generation that made it so impactful. A twenty-two year old does not tend to have an end-of-life focus as she is still in the throes of ‘what will I be when I grow up?’
This query accompanied by that youthful sense of immortality and…not much attention given to that future funeral.
The 1990s, it seems to me, was just the very beginning of woke times. Woke was possibly stirring more than awakening, shall we say. Self-responsibility was a whisper in the predawn light of our ‘Me generation slumber.
So this bold question shone a blazing light on a sleeping post-teen.
I am going to die?!
My life will be full of choices that will impact not only my experience, but what others perceive and believe about me, my value, and the value of my life?! Whoa.
A new awareness and recognition surfaced that bumbling along is an option, yet now so is living consciously.
It was a powerful question. It helped to distill my values, bringing attention to which choices align with those values.
Amusingly, today I discovered a word scramble that was surprising and relates to this topic. The letters A, C, E, I, O, N, R, and T can be ordered to spell “reaction”— otherwise known as bumbling along through life without vision, a master plan or awareness of one’s values. On this journey one is continuously up-righting oneself due to unforeseen obstacles and intrusions along the road on which one trudges.
The other ordering is “creation” which means that one has taken responsibility for one’s life and the living of it. One makes decisions based on determined values. It is an empowered stance. It’s a true gift akin to a compass on the stormy sea of life.
Life, by the way, has a way of providing the obstacles and intrusions no matter how consciously we choose to live. This is called the human experience. Sometimes we get buffeted so vigorously that we lose hold of cherished and stabilizing values for a moment. This can also be called the human experience. In these instances, it’s best to be kind to ourselves and remember the African proverb: “To get lost is to learn the way.“
One way to find our footing and come back to our steadying values is to remember our future funeral (“re-member”— come back to wholeness, embodiment).
This funeral question is a quick way, a shortcut back to conscious living. And it beats crawling around on the cold wet ship deck at the height of a life storm in the dark grasping for those dislodged values.
So when you’re feeling destabilized or just a little off, remember to check in to see if you are reacting to life or creating your life.
And, there’s no need to worry that it is morose to think of one’s own funeral. On the contrary, it is an effective tool which allows one to live a full and rich life to the end.
Enjoy your funeral, enjoy your life!