It happened several years ago. I noticed that for a couple of years in a row, I was attending at least three funerals a year. In the course of a conversation with an older friend of mine, he commented, “just wait ’til your my age. We’ve been to a funeral every weekend for the past few months.”
It wasn’t that long ago, when the only funerals I could recall were those of my grandparents. Now, at 45, I’ve just received news of the death of my 2nd friend in two months. It still saddens me to think about them being gone but less for my sake than for their children. I keep thinking about their children that are going to grow up without a parent, the grandchildren that will never know their grandparent; and yes, I think about my own mortality. How do I want to be remembered at the time of my death?
As part of analyzing my life’s purpose, in the near past, I had completed an exercise in which I wrote my own orbituary and what I would have wanted key people in my life to say about me at my funeral. Actually, this was an exercise in my leadership guide that came with my Franklin planner. Yes, I still use a Franklin planner with real paper.
In doing this exercise, it really helps you to define exactly who you want to become and forces you to think about the steps you must take in order to become that person. First, name three people from your personal life, a couple of people from your professional life and a couple from your community life. Then, write something each of those people would say in tribute to your life.
What I gathered from my wishful tributes was that I want to be: giving, caring, a good listener, faithful, fair, hard-working, intelligent, respectful, non-judgmental, dedicated, personable, approachable, optimistic and supportive. Some of these items go against my natural tendencies and therefore will require work from me. This is good because as long as I have something to work towards, there is need to keep growing and learning.