**Disclaimer** The following deals with mature subject matter and is not my typically happy, sunshiney post. It may cause you to think about things you’d rather not.
Last month I dealt with 2 unexpected deaths close to me – one of a family member, one of a friend.
My grandma died after a brief hospitalization and a massive heart attack. Her suffering was life long, however, as she battled many demons, especially schizophrenia. She is in a better place now, for which I am grateful. She was 72.
A friend of Jeff’s and mine (moreso Jeff’s) died a couple of weeks after my grandma did, after battling lung cancer for less than a year. He was in his early seventies. He lived across the street from the shop Jeff used to work at, and when he worked there Jeff saw him almost every day, as he would always come in to see what the guys were up to and bring coffee. Jeff went fishing and golfing with him, and every year for my birthday he would bake me THE most amazing Coconut Cream Pie. Every Halloween he and his wife had special treats for my kids and every Christmas season we visited, and took home homemade Nuts and Bolts and gifts from him and his wife for our kids. Even though he was a generation older than us, he was a good friend, and we will miss him very much.
Prior to that, there was also the shooting death of an OPP officer, who lived and worked in Wingham, where Jeff and I went to highschool and spent our teen years. The entire town was affected as it had never been before. It also came together as I have never seen before and made me proud to know so many people who still live there. I did not know the officer, his wife or 3 young sons, but the story, it being so close to home, seeing it “in real life”, up close and personal, really got to me, gave me chills and made me cry. It was someone I had never met, but it could have just as easily have been any of the OPP officers I DO know, or whose wives I know, whose kids are friends with mine. Watching the funeral on TV, taking place in a rec centre I have been in a million times, the outpouring of support, the grief of a wife so many friends of mine knew personally being displayed on national television for everyone to see, affected me.
And, just before that, another tragic death …a young man murdered by two other young men, all also from Wingham. The victim had two young children. Completely and utterly senseless, and again, I didn’t know him, as he was a lot younger than me, but I know a lot of people that did know him and were affected by what happened.
At my grandma’s funeral I gave the eulogy, which I shared in a past blog post.
When my Grandpa Jack died in 2001 I gave the eulogy then too. I was 21. I still have it, and read it from time to time, and I suspect my grandma, my mom and my aunt do as well.
He was a great man, my Grandpa Jack. Jeff thought so too… we always knew what we would name our son if we ever had one.
If you have ever given a eulogy, you know it’s no easy thing, summarizing an entire life into an approximately 5 minute speech. There is a lot to cover, not just the “facts”, but also your opinion of the person, your feelings about them and the way to want to portray them to everyone else. What you say in front of that group of mourners will be remembered by many. You are summing up the life of a loved one and leaving the final thoughts on how they impacted this world.
So, with those two losses that were close to me, the others that impacted many people close to me, and the focus that I have had on that in the last little while, it has gotten me to thinking about that final speech – that final summary that people give – summing up an entire life into a 5 minute speech.
I don’t mean to be morbid. I really don’t, but have you ever wondered…what they will say about you??
Maybe you haven’t, but as I said, it’s been on my mind lately, and I have written a couple…so I have thought about it.
Do you live your life in such a way that the person given the task will have no trouble giving those final thoughts? Or do you live your life in such a way that you worry about what those final thoughts might be or how you may be portrayed?
As people get older I think they give this a lot more thought. Some even pre plan as much as they can, right down to what song they want played, and who they want to speak. A couple of years ago, on a shopping trip with my mom and my other grandma, (who we most often refer to as “G’ma” or “Gran”), my grandma came up to me in the store, all happy that she had found a certain CD. I asked what was so special about the CD and she said it had “her funeral song” on it…the song she wanted played at her funeral. She asked me later if I wanted to hear it and I threw it on the floor (it didn’t break). I still have no idea what CD it is.
Will they say you are a dedicated friend? A selfless volunteer? That it was obvious how much you loved your family? Will they say you were Passionate? Caring? Strong? Determined?
What would you WANT them to say? How do you want to be remembered? Do you live and act in such a way that those final thoughts given would be what you want them to be?
Because the only thing for sure, is that YOU won’t be giving them. Someone else will. Maybe you can have a say in who that person will be, maybe you won’t. So are you confident, that the way you view yourself, is the same as how others view you and will publically remember you?
I am always honoured to be chosen as that person to speak on behalf of everyone else, to share my thoughts, and give that final speech. But there are some that may be too tough and someone else will have to do it. Obviously I won’t know that until the time.
The point of all this dark rambling? The morbid thoughts?
I propose, that you live your life, and treat other people, as if someday, they will be giving your eulogy. All people. Especially all of the people close to you. You may think you know who would say it, but for whatever reasons, maybe that person won’t be able to. You may think you would know what “they” would say…but you don’t. The only way you can control that is to treat people in such a way that you would be happy to have them speak at your funeral.
Maybe it’s a weird idea, but if you really think about it, it does make sense.
In focusing on this, and thinking so much about it lately, that’s the lesson. My grandma likely expected it would be her daughter, my aunt, that gave her eulogy, but she couldn’t. So my dad asked me and I was honoured. But I wonder if my grandma ever considered that it would have been me?
Treat others as you would want to be treated…and as if they will be giving your eulogy.
Oh, and by the way, since we’re on the subject, if you are a parent with minor children and you are reading this…make sure you have a will. You may not think you have assets, but you have children and if you care what happens to them and where they would live if both you and your significant other passed at the same time, or, ESPECIALLY if you are a single parent, and you don’t want them living with the other biological parent, get a will made up. This has happened in my personal life more than once. When I was young, my mom’s best friend died tragically, and she had JUST signed a will, giving custody of her son to her sister, NOT his biological father, and her wishes were upheld. It could happen in the blink of an eye. Take care of your kids in every way, including this one.
4 hours ago