The funeral, earlier this year, for the late President George H.W. Bush seemed to capture the essence of the man and led a newsroom colleague of mine to post this bit of advice on Twitter:
I chuckled. That’s overstating the situation for most of us but the funeral for President Bush #41, and prior to that, the service for the late U.S Senator John McCain, reminded all of us that someday, in the future, there will be an opportunity for others to remember our lives, our accomplishments, who we were and what we meant to our friends and loved ones.
Funerals can re-frame our reality — forcing us to come face-to-face with our own mortality—if only for a few uncomfortable minutes. That’s good. Pondering one’s death and how you might be remembered once you’re gone from this world can be deeply emotional and perhaps distressing. However, Irvin Yalom, a clinical psychologist who has written about how contemplating mortality on a deeper level can have positive psychological effects, feels that people who accept and face death develop a more “authentic” life in which their behaviors and goals more align with their values and what they say matters most to them.
In the case of President George H.W. Bush, historian and biographer Jon Meacham talked about Bush’s values and life code in his eulogy of the 41st President. “Tell the truth. Don’t blame people. Be strong. Do your best. Try hard. Forgive. Stay the course.”
What do you hope is said about you at your death? Are you living the kind of life that reflects what you say matters to you? If you’re not, there’s still time to make some changes! Happy New Year!