Eulogize – a writing activity

I happened to come across a blog with an interesting activity I knew I had to try. The activity was the following:

Write your own eulogy. If you don’t know what a eulogy is, it’s basically a speech comprised of those nice little nostalgic thoughts and experiences you share at someone’s funeral talking about her important life, work, incredible character, vision, or extraordinary efforts as a mother.

[T]here are several very good reasons to write your own eulogy:

  1. It will help you immediately answer the question: how will people remember me?
  2. It will help you clarify the things you want to get done in your life — dreams, goals, aspirations, adventures, your purpose, etc.
  3. It will help you crystallize what sort of character you want to be remembered for, what kind of job you had and how you did it, and what kind of friends you had and what kind of friend you were. The legacy you left behind.
  4. It will provide you with a business model for your life that you can constantly compare your current situation to, and compare your current progress. Then you can make adjustments in order to get closer to the goal.
  5. The Bottom Line: go back to #1. How will people remember me?

I wrote this as though one of my closest friends (though not any particular one) had done it; if I chose anyone else, it would be a pretty awful eulogy! I attempted to be objective about it, and really consider how I’ve presented myself to the world over my life. This was really the main point of the activity for me – to see myself as the rest of the world sees me. I’ve assumed different masks over time, all of them ‘me’ and yet ‘not me’. The composite of these masks and myself is the person that I see in this eulogy.

Michelle loved to laugh. She once told me something that her mother had said to her, and that was “it’s better to laugh than cry”. So she laughed. She could find the humour in almost anything, and she was always quick to make or share a joke if she thought it would make you laugh too. Those were some of the best times, when we would laugh till we cried and our sides ached, only to crack up again soon after we’d calmed.

She wasn’t always laughing, though. She was often quiet and reserved. She preferred to listen to other people than to talk most of the time. She only really got talking if she was excited about something, whether it was a television show, or a book, or some philosophical topic that had caught her interest. It was then that you would see this other part of her, a part that was intelligent – very intelligent – and could use language to express things in amazing ways. She was very good with language, and she wanted to use that skill.

She used it to write; she had since she was very young. I read some of her work and I enjoyed it. I told her this, but she always met the compliments with chagrin. She wanted to write, wanted it to be part of her life, but she never really got around to it.

There were other things that she liked to do as well. She loved art, and music, and theatre. She loved to cook and bake. She loved to learn foreign languages. She loved the bizarre and uncanny. She loved nerdy things. She loved to learn. Michelle would joke that she was a ‘Renaissance man’ or a ‘jack of all trades’; she said she liked to collect useless hobbies and information. They were not useless, she just never quite figured out how to fit them all together and do something with it.

Michelle was all of these things, but I don’t think she ever realized how special it was, even if she did joke sometimes about people being ‘plebes’, or grin and proclaim innocently “I can’t help that I’m better than other people!”. She said it, but she didn’t believe it. Maybe she should have.

Michelle would say that we were ‘kindred spirits’, and she was a good friend, my best friend. So I think that even though she isn’t here with us physically, she is still with us. She’s in our hearts and our minds, just waiting for the proper moment to make a joke so that we can laugh.

It’s kind of depressing to write your own eulogy…

I must say, while I would take no offense to be eulogized in such a way (partially because it’s accurate), I read it and I wonder “where are the accomplishments?”. So I suppose that is the thing for me to strive towards: accomplishing something I can be proud of, and that my friends and family can remember me for.

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