Updated: May 22, 2019
I was asked to perform music at the funeral of a man I had never met last week. I have attended quite a few funerals in my lifetime, including family members, patients I have worked with, and strangers I have never met whose families have asked me to provide the music for the service.
I have witnessed the significant differences in services and the differences in how people grieve not only between services but between people in the same service. I have also been struck by the similarities – how the deceased person is celebrated as a unique and good person they were. Stories are shared, usually laughter through tears is present, smiles are almost always lingering long after the service ends. The laughter, tears, and smiles apply to me even when I did not know the person.
Have I made a difference in my world?
I usually end up reflecting throughout and long after each service I attend about the life of the person who just died and about my life. What did their life actually look like day to day? How would they say their life looked? Do people really just look at things through the proverbial rose-colored glasses at a funeral or was this person really that good all the time? What would other people say about me at my funeral? Am I being fair to myself in how I’m viewing what my life looks like day to day? Are the goals that I’m setting for myself what really matter in the long run or should I be re-evaluating what really matters? What is it that really matters? Have I made a difference in my world? What can I do from this point on to make a difference?
I’m not encouraging you to change your behavior based on what others may or may not think of you now or in the future, but how would you want your life summed up at your funeral? Do you want to travel the world? Do you want to give back to your community? Do you want to be a more involved parent/grandparent/aunt/uncle/friend/etc? Do you want to learn to do something new (playing an instrument, photography, designing a website, identifying birds by their song)? Do you want to foster some animals? Maybe take some time to re-evaluate your goals and work towards making a difference in your world to be that person.