Skip to main content

My Funeral - Day 18

Some people might think it's morbid to think about your own funeral. It's not. It's actually smart.  "Begin with the End in Mind" is rule #2 in Stephen Covey's book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  I want to be highly effective.  Beginning with the end of my life in mind means I need to think about my own funeral. What's closer to the end than your own funeral?

I remember being at my Great-Grandma's funeral not too long after I became a Mom.  Her name was Minnie Merrow and she lived a long life.  She outlived almost all of her contemporaries.  Most people at her funeral were family - children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.  The room was big and it was full.  Many people there I didn't even know but each was connected to my great-grandma.

I only have a few personal memories of my grandma Minnie. She always kept chocolate chip cookies in her chest freezer and would let my sister and I eat all icy cold.  You had to move quickly as you picked one out. You might not get one if you dawdled.  She also had a grape arbor in her backyard. I remember the way the sour grapes popped in my mouth and also how seriously Great-Grandma Minnie took the grape-picking job. You'd better not mess around or you'd get scolded.

My Great-Grandma did not have an easy life.  She had eight children in a time when life was hard physical labor.  She lost a son in a tragic accident.  She worked hard her whole life and judging by pictures I've seen and stories I've heard, she struggled to be happy.  Even so, her life had a profound positive impact on my life.

She raised a daughter who raised a daughter who raised me.  My life emerged out of a chain of women rocking babies and making individual decisions about how to love Jesus and chase joy.  My Great-Grandma and my Grandma struggled to figure joy and sweetness into life.  My mom flexed every muscle she has to break that chain. Her hard work gave me the gift of freedom and an easy ability to find joy.

I thought a lot about Grandma Minnie's life as I looked around the room that day.  I wondered about the way all of our lives were linked together because they all were connected to her.  Minnie made choices about how to live and who to love.  Those choices either made it easier or harder for the next generation to make their own healthy choices.  Alone with her struggles, she handed down the links of serving Jesus and being committed to her family.

The things my Grandma passed on to my Mom weren't all rainbows and fairies either. Grandma struggled in many of the same ways her mother had.  She made choices and tried to do better with her own life.

My mom cried, "Enough!" and determined that every last ounce of her energy would be spent on fighting the patterns of depression and emotional abuse that had been handed down.  Yet, even within that broken pattern, the chain of loving Jesus and holding tightly to family was preserved.  Grandma Minnie got a few, bedrock things, right. Her daughter clung to those and my mom cemented them into me.

I'm making plans now for the day of my own funeral.  I want you all to sing songs that talk about what an awesome God I served and will make your heart swell with gratitude to Him.  I hope you'll give more money to God's work than to the florist in honor of me.  If it doesn't happen till I'm good and old you'll probably all be smiling a lot and talking about how great it is that I finally got to go to heaven just like I'd been wanting.  If it happens sooner than we hope, there may be more tears as you struggle to trust God's plan.

Either way, I hope you laugh a lot when you talk about me.  I hope there are plenty of stories on the tip of your tongue that force a smile through the tears as you tell them.  Let's be honest, I hope my sense of style is mentioned in a positive light and someone remembers a few of my great hair days.  I've gotta admit that there have been times, as I'm posing for pictures,  I hope it'll be a good one for the funeral boards.  I have shallow moments.  Mostly, I hope you are able to honestly say you remember a lot of the really big things, that by God's grace, I got right.

I hope my husband remembers being loved fiercely and bravely.  I hope he feels like I never had eyes for anyone or anything but him. I hope his confidence in my willingness to follow him to the ends of the earth on any adventure God sent our way is solid.  I hope he feels like we lived life together and I smiled a lot when I was with him.  I hope he thinks I was smart and strong.

 I hope my children remember a Mom who was incredibly in love with them and irrationally optimistic about them.  I hope they remember lots of time that they had my ears and my eyes.  I also hope they felt challenged and pushed to be reckless about their trust in Jesus.  I hope they saw me step out onto the water to follow Jesus often enough to know that it can be done and be thirsty to try it themselves.  I hope they feel deep in their bones that being their Mom was one the of the best things I had ever done.

I hope my parents are able to talk about a daughter who was a pleasure and my life felt buoyant to them.  I hope they realize they are the reason I can be strong.  I hope they're confident I really, really liked being their daughter.  And I hope my sis can truthfully say I was her best friend.  I hope she can laugh at the cat-fights of childhood knowing that what we grew into as adults was pretty awesome.  I hope she feels like she and I were more on the same page about the big important stuff in life than any other friend she's got.

I hope I have friends who can say we went deep, really deep.  I hope they say I was more than fluff and being my friend was both challenging and comforting.  I hope there are a  bunch of women who can talk all night about inside jokes and tearful moments we shared together.

I also hope there are a lot of people at my funeral who didn't really know me well but came because they knew about me.  I hope they saw my life and were able to connect the dots and know the most important things about me. I loved Jesus and I loved people.

After those things are spoken, and God's Word is preached, my plan for you all is to finish up your time together singing a rocking version of "Soon and Very Soon We are Going to See the King."  You'll need a reminder about what, and who, this is all about.

I'm thinking about that day, thinking about all the people who's lives will include links in their chains that began in my story. My life holds links from my Grandma Minnie's. I'm thinking about what I want to leave my people, I wonder if Grandma Minnie thought about what she wanted to leave me.  I know the things I leave them are being decided today, and tomorrow, and the day after that.

I'm writing my eulogy into the lives of people. 

My ordinary, everyday moments are creating the script for my funeral. I'm either leaving reasons for laughter and thanksgiving or reasons for awkward silence. This is the biggest event of my life. Remembering that fact every day will help me be ready for it.




Comments

  1. Visiting from the 31 Dayers FB page. I love this. Thinking about the end has a profound influence on how we travel there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading today Barbara! It's a good way to live, isn't it?

      Delete
  2. Ah.....doesn't it make you wonder. Amazing how the links connect, one to another and another. Connecting to those we know, and don't know but still impact our lives and we impact them. An amazing and complicated tapestry of life made beautiful by the grace of God and our love for him. Thank you for embracing the celebration that is life. I wanted to post this by my wordpress link but it didn't work so I am anonymous today/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading and for affirming what I'm feeling. It feels weighty and freeing at the same time to approach life like this!

      Delete
  3. This is AWEsome. Truly. I love how you've looked forward and visualized your worth in all the corners of your life. Funeral planning sounds morbid at first glance, but it's truly a celebration of the joy we have stored up for us in heaven.

    I actually have a "Funeral" file, documenting my wishes for what I hope to be a festive farewell and a celebration of faith. It's notes and scraps of hymns, verses, and a request for internment before the service and hot-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies afterward. I hope it will be a gift for my loved ones when the time comes.

    Now I'm going to borrow a page from your blog and think more eulogistically, not so much to provide a script for that day, but to provide a framework for these days I'm living now.

    Thanks so much for this, Lori!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the warm cookies idea!! I'm going to have to start an actual file like you. All of my ideas are written on scraps of church bulletins stuck into my Bible!

      Delete
  4. I'm writing my eulogy into the lives of people. I love this! Although I have not had the courage to do it yet, I also think about writing about my funeral and what I would like and want people to remember.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even just writing it out for yourself is a sacred thing....a good way to set goals and explore your heart. It sure was that for me. Thanks for reading Jackie!

      Delete
  5. "My Great-Grandma and my Grandma struggled to figure joy and sweetness into life. My mom did the hard work to became a chain-breaker and gave me the gift of starting my own journey unencumbered." This is so encouraging to me! I feel the desperation your mom felt to make a change for the generations that will come after me. It's tough, so tough but I want it so badly, and my kids need it. By the grace of God I hope my kids can enjoy the benefits as they grow from a momma who was able to cooperate with God to loose the shackles of generations gone before. If you ever have the time I would love to hear more of how you think your mom was able to accomplish the change!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading Jennifer! The older I get the more I realize what a huge gift my mom gave me. She's never found a magic cure but she's never stopped fighting....and that gave me what I needed. I would love to talk with you more. Are you one of my face-to-face friends or do we need to start emailing?? Maybe I need to have my Mom write a guest post...;)

      Delete

Post a Comment

I'd love to hear what you think!

Popular posts from this blog

Fear - You're Not the Boss of Me Anymore! - Part 1

I had a recurring nightmare as a child. It woke me in the middle of the night and kept me awake worrying about whether it would fill my mind as soon as I closed my eyes. I thought I would outgrow it. I hoped my adult brain would be able to see things my child’s brain couldn’t and I would be free. Instead, a panicky fear of my Dad dying followed me into marriage and parenting. I’m 49 years old and until recently, the nightmare still showed up in various forms.
This year my beloved Daddy died. I watched him take his last breath in front of me and imagined him arriving with the next in heaven. My whole life I’ve been clenched up around the fear that watching him die might break something inside of me and I couldn’t survive. 

It didn’t happen. I’m more okay than I ever thought possible. My dad isn’t living anymore, he’s not here on earth for me to talk to or touch and I’m sitting upright and in my right mind. Today I’m amazed at my okayness. Finally being free of this fear I’ve lived with s…

A Cup of Cold Water for Thirsty Mommas - Day 1

For the first time in nearly 20 years....I. Don't. Have. A. Preschooler.  Picking out gym shoes and putting a backpack on Ginger has put me in a reflective mood.  It's obvious that she's ready to begin school .....the question is, am I? 

The truth is, it's been an awesome run.  I'm incredibly grateful that I have been able to spend these years at home focused on soaking up the first years of my kids' lives.  I have loved being the one who teaches them colors, how to take turns during board games, why it's polite to use a tissue instead of a sleeve and being able to pass on my awesome Thriller dance moves.  It was an intentional choice that Scott and I made, right at the beginning, to order our little world in such a way that I could focus on being a mom.

You see, I believed my mom.  She told me to listen to what I've heard about women being able to have it all and do it all.  She told me to dream about a career, dream about being a mom, dream about ho…

Hack Yourself First - the Life Hack that Changes Everything

If you start looking for hacks to make your life simpler and happier in the wrong places, you will accomplish the exact opposite of what you hope. You will spin out on solutions to problems you don’t have. You will waste energy trying to feel good about accomplishments that don’t matter to you. You’ll quit because it didn’t work.
Shortcuts are good for two things: finishing faster or having more fun.
When we drive from Grand Rapids to Chicago for a fun weekend in the city we usually want to get there as quickly as possible so the fun can begin. Extra time spent wandering through Gary, Indiana in the car isn’t tempting when deep dish pizza and a show are waiting for us in Chicago. We want to shave time off the trip any way we can. We’re looking for a time-saving shortcut, an efficiency hack. 

You can only find a shortcut to an actual destination. Until we’ve set a course to Chicago, there’s no way to find a quicker path. Before I know I want to have a garden, it’s silly to figure out who …