“We must let go of the life we have planned, in order to accept the life that is waiting for us.”~Joseph Campbell.
I once attended a workshop for nurses on death and dying. It has long been acknowledged that unless you accept your own mortality, you cannot help those who are going through that transition. The speaker assigned us a task. Write your own eulogy. You can imagine you have lived a long life if you wish, but what are the things you would wish to see there? Most of us had to pause for a long moment before we could even think where to begin.
I heard about a program in Miami designed for young offenders, teens who have been arrested for gun or violent crimes. The program includes tours of a funeral home, and lessons in the cost to the family of such events. A retired nurse leads them in another exercise: to write their own eulogies. First she has to help them spell the word eulogy! So far the program has been quite effective. One of the realities of the teenage phase of life is selfishness. Helping teens to recognize the impact of their actions on the lives of others is huge.
I love words, and love to try to track the origin, and so I looked up eulogy. It apparently came from a Greek word meaning praise, and ended up as a Latin word meaning inscription on a tomb. But it also may have originated from another Greek word elegy, which means mournful poem. Which intrigued me. I used the word elegy recently to describe a beautiful poem written by a friend which was anything but mournful!
The other day I read about the death of a young woman. Since I didn’t know her, but knew her sister, I decided to visit her Facebook page to get a sense of who she was. Her pages were filled with positive and uplifting messages, words of encouragement and hope. And plenty of photographs of her handiwork (apparently she was a beautician and hair stylist) often accompanied by hashtags celebrating what she did. She obviously had a passion for her work and loved what she did.
It used to be that only writers left a legacy of their work for others to read; just as artists and actors leave their own records. Others leave traces in their offspring: reminders in mannerisms or features, temperament or skills. Nowadays anyone who has access to social media leaves a trail, often a very wide one!
This morning I am struggling to write on my iPad, in a city far from home. My message may be abbreviated by several factors as I have to get up for an early start to a busy day.
On this nippy Atlanta morning I wish you a wonderful weekend. May your words and actions create a living eulogy: an elegant poem of praise to describe a life well lived, focused on the positive and uplifting things that you do. May you realize that your actions have consequences far beyond your immediate circle. And may we celebrate the simple pleasures of this wonderful life.