Eulogy noun a speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something highly, especially a tribute to someone who has just died.
The subject matter of today’s post could seem a little out there for some people, just stay with me. A eulogy is a pretty sad piece of text, there is no doubting that. If you ever need to write one then chances are someone close to you has passed away.
Personally, I believe they can be given a slightly happier meaning based on how they are written. But for the most part, they are written in times of sadness.
Now, what if I said to you, after finishing this post, you should go off and write your own? Yeah, that’s right. I want to you go and sit down and write down exactly what you would want somebody to say at your funeral. I can feel the excitement already.
If you’ve read that last sentence and hovered your mouse up to big red X in the corner just hold your damn horses. There are real and tangible benefits to doing this. I’ve just been through this exact same exercise myself. Off the back of it, my thinking towards both my short and long term future has radically changed. For the better of course. But here is why:
Your goals become clear
What would you actually want somebody to say at your funeral? Just stop briefly now and think about it for 30 seconds…
Do you want to be that guy who drifted his way through life, never doing what he truly wanted? Or would you want to be the girl who travelled the world and realised her dreams? The person who gives generously to charity? Who spent most of his income flying to 3rd world countries and building schools? Or do you just want to have tonnes of money and live in a huge mansion?
People can sit and say they have goals all day long. “I really want to see Machu Pichu”; “I really want to help support a mental health charity”. These goals are fantastic but can succumb to change as life goes on.
If you sit down and figure out exactly what you want people to say about you at your funeral, then what you truly want becomes a lot clearer. I’m a software developer and I can honestly say I love my job. It stimulates me, it gives me a great work/life balance and it helps cultivate my inner nerd.
However, something has always nagged at me about my choice of career. I’ve always wanted to help people in some capacity. Use my knowledge or experiences to help other people. Sitting and writing my own eulogy gave me that realization.
Can you guess how this blog started?
Actionable tip 1 – When writing your eulogy, remember to think about what you would want people to say about what you had done in your life. Pass no judgement, be honest with yourself.
It puts life into perspective
Memento Mori is a Latin saying that roughly translates to ‘remember death’. It is my favorite saying and one that I close off my daily journal with every single day. Whenever I first talk to people about the saying they believe it to be sad. Some think I’m a complete weirdo for thinking about death every day.
The saying is meant to be taken in a slightly different light. Memento Mori is to remember that we will all die eventually, so be present and enjoy every single moment. There is no telling when your time will come, so don’t spend your time wishing for your life 10 years from now.
Writing a eulogy only extrapolates this feeling. Imagining death has a funny way of making you take action instantly.
That book you want to write but aren’t going to start until tomorrow?
The dream holiday you want to go on but don’t believe you can for 10 more years?
Take action now to make it happen. I appreciate that some things won’t be easy for some people. But knowing that any given day could be your last! It makes the daily Starbucks seem a little less important.
It helps you lead a healthier life
So you’ve started writing your eulogy. You’ve worked through your goals and what you would like people to think about you. Then you look at what you want to become and where you are now and realize there is a lot to do in a relatively short space of time.
Time is something we don’t have an awful lot of. If the lifespan of the Earth was the length of your arm, humans existence would be just a single file of a nail.
Once you realize how much you want to achieve, and what it would take to get there. It makes things like healthy eating and a good exercise routine so much easier to work towards. It can be really helpful to actually write down the age you ‘passed away’ at.
For example, my eulogy is dated 3rd January 2113. Which means I died on my 120th birthday. You may baulk at the idea of living to 120, but I honestly believe that with no unforeseen accidents I and many people my age will live that long.
Another line from my eulogy reads: “He was an avid scuba diver and paddle boarder, continuing to do both well into his 100’s”. To be scuba diving and stand-up paddle boarding in my 100’s I’m going to need to look after myself. My decisions now are going to have a huge impact on achieving that goal or otherwise.
So, where exactly should I start?
Start with a date, and allow yourself to go crazy (I mean, living to 456 doesn’t seem overly feasible). Just because your father and grandfather both died in their 60’s does not mean that you will. The mind is incredibly powerful. I’m a firm believer that if you allow yourself to think certain things are inevitable then they will be realised.
Don’t let the eulogy be completely focused on your career. How many eulogies have you ever heard that went along the lines of “Jim was a great accountant, he completed people’s taxes for over 30 years”. Yes, it may be a passing comment but don’t let it form the crux of your writing.
Think about things like personality and personal achievement. A line from my own “he constantly strived to be the best version of himself… he always brought people along for the ride”.
Once you’ve got it all done, hopefully, you will have had a realization. It may be the realization that the path you’re on is correct. It may be, as I did, that you have a bit of a crisis of confidence in your current path that leads you to starting a blog and beginning to racially alter your life.
If you don’t feel like writing a eulogy is for you, there is stll one key takeaway I’d recommend from this article. One small thing to help bring improvement to your life, it would be:
Actionable tip 1 – Remember Memento Mori. Live in the moment, be present in the here and now.