“Every eulogy reminds me to deepen my dash, that place on the tombstone between our birth and our death.” - Regina Brett
Imagine your husband, kid, wife or Mom is standing at the funeral home podium, about to issue your eulogy and they say...
“She worked 60 hours a week and sure could make her way around an excel spreadsheet. One hell of a project manager. And we were all so proud when she earned the money for her mini cooper convertible. And how about that time she finally conquered level 524 in Candy Crush? Amazing.”
Of course, they’ll say none of that. They’ll just struggle to come up with something else. They’ll say you were a nice person. A good mother and wife, or father and son. But are you really? Will you have one of those generic, “He was a nice guy once you got to know him,” eulogies given for hot-tempered old men? What are you doing now that is making an impact in people’s lives?
Many of us spend the majority of our days building marketable skills for the economy, raising children to have marketable skills in the economy and then cashing in the rewards given for said marketable skills. This life makes for an empty eulogy and debatably an empty existence.
Author David Brooks, discussed this in his New York Times Op-ed column, "The Moral Bucket List," saying: "It occurred to me that there were two sets of virtues, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral — whether you were kind, brave, honest or faithful. … Many of us are clearer on how to build an external career than on how to build inner character."
Once dead, what we’ve done, really done, for others in a meaningful way is drug out into the light. And if we’ve done little for anyone beyond ourselves, that reality gets a bright light shined on it as well.
Why do we do this after someone is gone? There could be many reasons, but one is that those who remain are grieving and trying to call forth your legacy as comfort to the cold reality of death. You live no more to earn money or drive a convertible, but you live on in others.
You live on in their memory. You’re memorable when you make an impact. You make an impact, hopefully positive, by inspiring, loving and giving to those around you.
You live on through your generosity. Your bloom has been cut, but the seeds you planted in other’s lives grow -- the unconditional love you bestowed on children, the charitable foundation you began for your community or the inspirational stories or art you created to be passed on to others.
So, we ask, how is your eulogy coming? What are you doing of value today that extends beyond your own resume and life?