If you are like me, at one point in your life you’ve done the “funeral exercise.” This is an exercise where you take some time to imagine the end of your life and think about what you hope others will say about you.
This is designed to help you really look at the life you are living and if it is congruent with what you hope to be remembered for.
Here’s the deal – you’ll be dead! Will you really care?
I know, that is not the point, but the point is that you don’t have any control how you are remembered. You only have control about how you show up (or don’t) in your life for yourself and others.
You may think that you will be remembered for all the people you helped and projects you were involved in. You may envision the line standing down the sidewalk waiting to pay their final respects, but that is not what it’s really about.
It’s really about the people standing inside, next to you while the line files through. Think about them for a minute, what stories they will tell are the important ones.
So here is a bit of a twist to that morbid exercise, still using the theme because it is a powerful one. It’s a variation on the theme but centers around those you love rather than you.
Imagine for a brief moment that someone near and dear to you were to become ill or had limited time left on the planet. Would you change anything about how you are living today?
You see, we often don’t realize what we take for granted. We may be doing a grand gesture that many will remember us for at our funeral, but forget what it denies us the opportunity to do.
This perspective gives you the chance to look at how you are showing up today in your life and in the life of those you love. Or not showing up.
The question if you stay late at work to get just a bit more done, or go home to make dinner for your family has a different perspective now doesn’t it? Would you listen more intently as your loved one was telling you about their day if it could be their last?
There is a song by Tim McGraw called Live Like You Are Dying in which he talks about going fishing more, loving more and not arguing as much. Let’s face it, some of the things we worry about, spend time on and are distracted by are things that in the face of limited time we would decide really don’t matter!
Take that the next step further – and think about what matters to your loved ones. How would they feel coming home to find you not only home from work on time but cooking dinner for everyone? Or when someone spoke to you, you put your phone down and looked them in the eyes and empathized with them and really listened fully?
Is that argument you had really that important? Think about the event or task you said yes to that is taking time away from reading your kids a bedtime story.
If time were limited, would you let anything get in the way of story time?
Ultimately we have no control over how we are remembered but we always have control of how we live each day. How we show others they are important and how we honor them in life is really what it’s all about, not what is said in a eulogy that we will never hear.
How people feel about you once you are gone is your legacy, how they feel about you while you walk among them is your life.
Remember, “Some people talk to you in their free time. Some people free their time to talk to you.”
I encourage you to consider these thoughts as you move about your days being intentional about your interactions in life with your loved ones. Make how you live matter to those you love, don’t worry about what will be said when your gone – you’re still here!