It takes a certain emotional maturity to talk about one’s own death. Part of my job as a financial advisor is to help clients reach that level of maturity or self-awareness. Too often, “estate planning” ends with signing a bunch a documents. That’s the easy part! We also need to do “end-of-life planning”. For years, I have encouraged them to make their own funeral arrangements, as it is very stressful and very unfair to expect loved ones to read your mind when you are gone. Write your own obituary . . . now! Don’t expect anyone else to write it correctly. Taking responsibility off your loved ones is an act of love!
Having advised clients on this for many years, I assumed that I had learned enough. Then, I learned that funeral homes routinely hire security guards to keep family members from fighting each other. (Think: the Jerry Springer Show) There are so many better places and better times to fight!
Now, there is another wrinkle to end-of-life planning that a friend taught me recently. Generally speaking, the person giving the eulogy is some alpha male, who promises to say nice things, but that is not enough. The eulogy defines a person’s life. Ideally, each person would write their own eulogy, and it would simply be read aloud at the memorial service. Absent that, the eulogist should be someone who recognizes the importance of defining a person’s life in the minds of those who care. That is a solemn responsibility and should not be taken lightly.
I regret the eulogy I gave at my mother’s funeral. She cared so much for others and wanted good things for them. She always told me it was better to DO good than to BE good. I tried to present that thought in her eulogy but should have just spoken of her goodness and the good she did, instead of inspiring others to do good. Obviously, I was not careful enough in picking the eulogist . . .