Write Your Own Eulogy

We are all, at this very moment, writing our own eulogies. We may not be the ones to speak on our own behalf at a memorial service, but we are writing the words, nonetheless.  The stories we shared, the love we gave, the support we offered, the feelings we emoted, all our actions, the beliefs we stood by. All the best that we were will be recalled in loving memory by those closest to us. If you have ever had to eulogize a loved one, you know how daunting this can be. Especially for family. How do you find the right words to reflect the kind of deep and abiding love we have for family? The greatest poets and philosophers have struggled to convey these ideas for centuries. How do you describe the pain of your loss and the hole it leaves behind? It helps to remember that most of the people in the room understand the type of love you are speaking about. They have those relationships in their lives too. And, many will understand the pain of your loss or be able to empathize. What they cannot fathom, as easily, is your perspective on who this person was. We each know the other in the context of our relationships. And we have many varied relationships in our lives. My acquaintances do not know me like my friends, who don’t know me like my family, who don’t know me like my lovers, etc. Every person has but a facet of who we were. Colored by the shades of common interests, intimacy, and importance. I know you loved them. I would posit that everyone in attendance did to some degree. Why else would they be here? (I do leave open the idea that a disgruntled exe or the like is in attendance to confirm your passing) And, at my age, I can fully understand and sympathize with the pain of your loss. What I do not know, is who that person was to you. Share their moments, their stories, their emotions shared, their laughter laughed, their tears shed, their hopes hoped for, and the dreams they dreamt. I am hoping to know them the way you did. Because I never knew the “them” you knew. In return, I will gladly share the “them” I knew with you.

 All of this poses a few questions for me. If I am writing my own eulogy right now with my actions and words, am I writing the story I want told? Am I doing the things and being the person, I want to be remembered as? It gives a moment of pause to my thinking. Of course, I have a few skeletons in my closet like everyone else. Mine may need to be bigger than a closet now that I think about that. But the point is, I am not worried about where I fell short. A eulogy, or other fond remembrance, is always in the spotlight of our best selves where no shadows can loom. I do not expect someone to trash me in my eulogy, although my only response would be, “Well played”. Timing is everything. But I also do not want to be remembered as some idealist version of myself. It would be disingenuous. I am flawed and that needs to be remembered too. If not for the opportunity to help those mourning my loss to recognize and be comforted by the fact we are all flawed and a work in progress, reaffirming what I consider to be the greatest of humanitarian bonds, then at least so they can see those flaws as places to be better in their own lives. But learning from other people’s mistakes seems to be the path less chosen all the time. And, I am not advocating for releasing all my skeletons from the walk-in closet at my eulogy. Although, I can promise that, when I am dead, I will not care one iota about judgement from those left behind. It’s just the service would drag on forever. But I am not only okay with recognizing my best and worst, I would prefer it. My life, as all life, is the true representation of the Tao. The Yin and Yang where the good does not exist without the bad, or the bad without the good. I am happy to be seen in the completeness of that concept. Even in the times that pass after, if you were to meet a friend of mine and share a story with them of when I had been a complete ass about something, if it doesn’t leave them laughing with you, they probably weren’t a very close friend. My friends would laugh.

So, with all I had contemplated about what would be said when I am gone, it gave rise to remember those times I had to speak words endearing a loved one after their loss. I got off easy on both accounts. My siblings and I collaborated on a memorial for our mother, Margaret, aka Margie, aka Peg. It was written well ahead of time and I had practiced on delivering it flawlessly. I was the youngest of the three of us and felt honored my older siblings would rely on me on this occasion. I honed my oration until it was delivered with even tone, considered pace, and perfect diction. I have always been a leader and recognize the times of crisis that require a conviction of your words to impart strength to the people who hear them. When things were bad, I knew I had to be my strongest. It was also stripped of any real emotional connection in the process. It is not strange that people afterwards would wonder how much I really loved my mom. I wouldn’t blame them. The second was for my brother, Mark. After being distant for most of our adult lives, we grew very close in the years before his death. His wife had asked me to speak at his service. I was happy to do so. I knew I could not write and deliver anything of substance without falling apart emotionally. Again, I felt compelled to be the pillar in this time of strife and elected to read a passage rather than write from the heart. My brother was a life-long biker. Not a 1%er. But saddle born and bred for sure. I found a selection called “The Bikers Creed” bylined as Anonymous. Edited it a bit for word choice, though every bit of the original rang true and would be exactly the words my brother would have used, as it was being delivered to a much less raucous crowd in a solemn setting. Artistic license was necessary. I practiced it but never mastered it like my mother’s. It showed. Between riding his Harley over to the viewing for display (first time on his bike) and the honor that provoked, the seeing of old, old friends which brought back the heady rush of my misadventures in youth, my sister’s shared realization that we would soon be the only family left for each other, the consoling of the widow, and the look in my niece’s eyes, it all boiled to the surface somewhere through the reading. Can’t say exactly when, as the rest was more a struggle to get the train back on the tracks so the words I was speaking could be understood clearly. As soon as it was over, I found the reins to my emotions easily and remained strong again.

I can’t speak on all the differences between those two events, as this is a blog and not a doctoral thesis. My driven need to always be the strong one, and my emotional curtailment representing that strength, is a skeleton we keep in the closet for today. That is not at all where I started going with this in the beginning. I have thought about the words that would be said about me. If I could choose what was said, what would I choose? As you already know, with my love of words this would seem inherently important to someone like me. So, I have set a goal. I will write my own eulogy now. Short of me being the person who cures cancer or some other just as life changing accomplishment, it should remain timeless. It should be complete and inclusive of both the good and bad. Everyone should see a bit of themselves in who I was in that light. It should be brief, as eloquence does not require verbosity. It would ask those left behind to be happy in a time they are most sad. This is a daunting task. Better get to writing.

 P.S.     Sis, if you see a future post with my own eulogy, don’t get any ideas. Although I still plan on predeceasing you and making you deal with all my ‘stuff’, I am not planning on going any time soon. Love you! And no, if I go first, you can’t have my sex toys. That is just weird!

3 Responses to “Write Your Own Eulogy”
  1. Eloquent. Poignant. Absolute truth. And no, I don’t want your USED sex toys. I may be willing to share a fork or spoon with you, but that is just one step too far! (However, I reserve the right to check them out to see if there’s something there I want to buy for myself – in brand new condition, of course!)

    And, all of this is moot, as I expect I will pre-decease you. And hey, I’ve simplified my life as much as I’m willing and organized the rest to make your job easy!

    Love you!

    • Brad Osborne says:

      If you ever have to deal with my property and don’t come across something that at least makes you wonder, then I have not led my life as close to the edge as I had hoped. Love you back!

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  1. […] To put this in context, please feel free to read “Write Your Own Eulogy”. […]

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