When I was in high school, i went to 10 funerals in four years. It was very sad. There were funerals for teachers, parents of classmates, classmates and friends. I became very comfortable attending funerals and discussing death. My mom was 100% Irish. Irish people tend to have their funerals planned out years, if not decades, in advance. My mom did and we used to laugh about it!
When my mom passed away, I was 26 and pregnant with my first child. It was very sad. The shining light however, was the people. Many people that attended my mother’s funeral were there because they loved her. And, there were many people that were there because they loved me. Ever since then, I sort of became a serial funeral attendee. It wasn’t to be sad or feel sorry for myself. It was I wanted to “pay it forward” to people. Giving a hug, saying I understand and sometimes just being there can go a long way to provide support to people.
What was interesting were the lessons I learned. In attending funerals, I started to realize what was important. What is being said about that person? Of the people attending, what impact was had? It helped me put things into perspective. Hearing the life stories of people made me think about what my life story is. What do I want my life story to be? Going to a funeral, at least once per year, gave me perspective.
In 2015 I hired a professional business coach, Michael Regan of Building Champions. Part of the process when first starting with Building Champions is to write your obituary. Write out the story you want told at your funeral. Tell the world what you want said about you. It was a very powerful experience. The best part about writing my obituary is how easily it helped me make decisions about my life. It helps me with spending time on my work to help positively impact people’s lives with simple one liners. It helps me in my relationship with Chuck to keep our passion alive. It helps me make good choices about health and being a better mom.
Part of the process when writing your own obituary is to ready it at least once per month. I keep it on my desk and ready it regularly. When I go to a funeral, I am reminded of what I have written about my own obituary. Going to funeral once per year gives me great perspective. Making choices every day to make sure the story that is told at my funeral is legacy I choose to leave when I am gone.