Over the years, I have sat with people as they transitioned from this life, presided over their funerals, and listened to the memories of their grieving family and friends. Often the memories bring joyous tears. I have heard praise for parents that sacrificed to help their child beat an addiction, gratitude for a spouse who never let business come before family, and joy for the kind example given by a sibling.
Sadly, these are not the only kinds of stories that are told.
I have heard the most painful, honest, raw things said about the deceased:
- “She was an okay grandmother, not much of a mother to me. She was always too busy.”
- “I took care of him until the end – it’s more than he ever did for me.”
- “There’s no one to give a eulogy – she didn’t have friends.”
- “Well, he loved his job… He was good at his job – well-respected… Did I mention his job?”
- “Yeah, she was a churchgoer, but she didn’t volunteer or anything. I have no idea what verses or hymns she liked; she never talked about it.”
No one wants to be remembered as distant, too busy, self-centered, unfriendly, or a workaholic.
No one wants his or her children, grandchildren, or acquaintances groping for something nice to say. Yet pastors hear this more than you might think.
A colleague of mine spoke about an exercise that he did with his spiritual director: writing his own eulogy. He said that process of summing up his life brought new clarity about the decisions he made and actions he took.
With this new insight, the second step was to write the eulogy he wanted to be said at his funeral. Seeing where he was and where he wanted to be became part of his life’s journey. He saw where to develop deeper relationships, a need to free himself of certain habits and attitudes, and ways to increase love for God and others. His eulogy has become a blueprint for his life.
This concept intrigued me and I decided to write a eulogy for my life as it is now – and the eulogy that I would want said over my grave. God’s grace gave me the humility to accept what is good and the courage to be honest about what needs to change. Things that seem important RIGHT NOW may not look important when viewed from one’s future grave.
I would like to challenge you to write your own eulogies – the one that would be true for today and the one you want to be true for tomorrow. Sift through the past for gold and for dross and work with God to become the woman God created you to be. The process is not meant to produce guilt or to feel like punishment – it is meant to free you to live as one prepared to die.
May you be remembered as a woman of deep faith, love, kindness, courage, and conviction!
About Carol Pazdersky
Carol Pazdersky is an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church. She serves the faith communities of St. John’s UMC in Lutherville, MD, and Idlewylde UMC as lead pastor. As the member of the District Committee on Ministry, Carol has mentored other women as they answer their call to ministry. On a daily basis, Carol ministers with women who are seeking to balance their personal, professional, and spiritual lives. She is a wife, mother of three young adults, friend, and animal lover and on the same journey to find balance.