Obituaries: How Will Yours Read?

I have, for so long as I can recall, read the Obituary page(s) in our local newspaper each day.  Maybe that originated with me being a life insurance peddler in years past.  I have blogged about that odd compulsion in other venues prior to this, but apparently, it is time for another venture into this arena in this venue.

Some obituaries are a single line or two, and I always have to wonder if they had anyone near them when they passed on to “their reward”, whatever that reward might’ve been. Some, on the other hand, almost read like a small biography…or maybe  an autobiography for the very proud person who has passed away but wrote first to be sure of how it would read.

Some obituaries run on at length describing the entire family tree and the myriad accomplishments of the person whose picture always appears at the top, as if to prove that their absence will assuredly leave an empty spot in the world.   Some include the names of favorite pets; some include hobbies; some include travels taken; some lament various maladies; some ask for any gifts of conscience to go to a cause or to several causes.

I am much more attuned, of course, to the obituary of a person whom I have known to one degree or another to see how my remembrance measured up to that of whoever wrote the obituary. In some cases, the person who has passed played a very important role in my life or reminds me of such a person.  In other cases, I remember my experience with the person which was a less-than-good experience. I have learned from both kinds of experiences; in fact, I may have learned more in some cases from experiences with people I didn’t particularly like or even respect.

I think about how his or her family members remember the person.  I think about friends of the person and whether they felt a huge loss with their friends’ passing?  We probably each have those whom we think could’ve pulled their finger out of the glass of water and left a hole behind even though we know that is not physically possible.

But, I wonder, as you might also, how those who know me and who will read my obituary will remember me.  I remind myself that there comes a day when mine will be published, and when others will think about my life as I have thought about the lives and impact of others’ lives on me.  I feel certain there will be those who remember lessons I taught them unknowingly by my actions that impacted their lives in one way or another.  I understand that I think about this more today than I did twenty years ago, but I did some thinking in that vein even then…and earlier.

We leave behind us a trail of memories for others.  I know that some memories I have left behind were not very good memories.  Most of us can sense when we’ve left a memory or an example that we’d prefer to not have left.  If only we could’ve learned sooner how to avoid leaving those memories, or at least how to have left fewer of those memories.

In the end, it is, obviously, up to each of us as to how we will be remembered and whether or not we’ll be missed.  And, it is up to God as to where we’ll spend the eternity to come. Wish I’d have gotten wiser sooner, but then don’t we all if we’re honest with self?

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