Writing your Eulogy

April 9, 2021

Who will talk?  What will they say?  What will be the stories they tell? Who will remember?  Soon after a person dies, family members or maybe a close friend or two will take some time to write down what to say at the funeral or memorial service.  They will gather around the kitchen table or maybe a bar and reminisce.  Perhaps through tears and some laughter (and possibly anger), they will decide what to share when the people from your life gather to say good bye to you.  They will talk about you but you won’t hear a thing. 

But the thing is, you actually did get to decide what they say, you get to know what will be said, because each day of your life, bit by bit, you were slowly writing your eulogy, even if you never thought about it. 

We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.

— John Dryden

Through your actions, and inactions, through your words, both spoken and unspoken, and through the smiles or empty stares, you were day by day shaping with would be said in your eulogy.  Many of the lives you touched you were probably not even aware of; both those who were encouraged or shown gratitude, or those who were ignored or hurt.  Day by day, minute by minute, moment by moment, we are writing our eulogies. 

So, the big question is, what do you want to be remembered for and by who?  Whether by default or through deliberate action, we are weaving the fabric that will comprise our eulogy.  How intentional are we being with our lives?  Sometimes it is easy to put our life on cruise control or autopilot, and even numb ourselves to fully living.  We don’t want to think about something so profound. But the funny thing is, that no matter what you do, your life story is being written, one way or another, and hopefully, it is being written with purpose and intention and with an ending that you would like.

The same intention applies to how we spend our professional lives.  It is easy to allow one’s career to be shaped by happenstance and randomness.  It is easy to put one’s carrier on auto pilot.  However, we do have the option to intentionally choose how we spend our working days.  While we may not realize it, but we actually get to choose what we do and with who, if we are

intentional and take our careers off of cruise control.  Just like our eulogy, you are in charge of what your resume contains.  In academia, rather than the word resume, we use the word curriculum vitae or CV for short.  I love this term ‘curriculum vitae’, because it is Latin for “course of life”.  It literally means ‘the story of your life’.  It represents of what you have done with your life, professionally. 

So, I encourage you to take some time this weekend and reflect on what your eulogy will contain and think about how you might intentionally craft your life story with purpose and focus.  At the same time, take time to look at your resume or CV.  What would you like it to contain this time next year?  In five years?  Because the truth is, over time, stuff winds up on our resume, such as companies worked for, job titles held and various accomplishments.  And over time, our eulogy slowly get written.  But the great part is that we can choose to be the author of by documents, our eulogy and our CV.

I know that I recently used this quote in another Friday Food for Thought, but I feel it bears repeating:

Have a great weekend!

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