What will your obituary say about you?

What will your obituary say about you?

cemetaryBy Cinthia Jahnsen

A few days ago, a woman shared a few obituaries with me. She apparently really enjoyed reading obituaries and thought I would enjoy listening to a few. One obituary was about a woman who had died in August of 2008. It said that her “presence will not be missed by many, very few tears will be shed and there will be no lamenting over her passing.” The obituary goes on to say that what the family will be mournful about is the missed time, love and devotion that this woman could have given to her family, children and grandchildren. It goes on to say that she spent a life time tearing her family apart. Due to this, there was to be no service, no prayers offered and no family gathering to celebrate her life. The goodbyes offered were only offered in the obituary. Ouch!

 

When I heard this, it really made me pause and think about what kind of words would be written in my own obituary in the time of my passing. It is not something I often think about. Listening to this sad goodbye to a passing woman, made me think about my own children, and future grandchildren. How will I be remembered? What legacy do I want to share with my posterity? When my great grandchildren look back on pictures of their grandmother, what will they see there? A bitter old lady, or a woman with a life time of smiles, hugs, positivity and service? I sure hope its the latter.

 

Remembered for love…

 

As a kid, I always loved visiting my grandparents. I always felt that I could do no wrong when I was in their presence. They were always so proud of my accomplishments and the person I was becoming. They were not rich, did not shower me with gifts or goodies, but I always knew that they loved me. When they passed away, I knew I would always miss them and try to be like them. They gave me something to remember them by that is more precious than any object or money that could be inherited. They gave me the confidence that they would always be there for me no matter what (even in spirit) rooting me on in my daily adventures.

Showing love for someone is not always easy. It sometimes can take practice and patience, but there is no greater gift than the gift of love and understanding. That is one thing I desperately want to be remembered for, is my ability to love unconditionally.

 

Remembered for Service…

 

What goes around comes around. Selfless service is easier than you might think.

 

I think sometimes we can be overwhelmed by the thought of service. Service is defined, according to google, as “the action of helping or doing work for someone.” Some people have the capacity to serve in huge quantities and huge amounts. I am not one of those people right now, simply because I have young children at home which takes up much of my time. But if I think about it more clearly, I am doing service every single day. I am doing laundry, making lunches, running errands, and cooking meals. I volunteer at the school, watch the neighbors kids when they need a break, help with homework; the list is endless.

Perhaps I should change the way I look at my daily “chores” as service. I could be positive about the things I get done through the day and show my family  that these things are done because I love my family and I want to serve them. I always tell me children, “it’s not service unless you do it with a smile.” Believe it or not, doing service can lead to longevity, health and well-being according to a study on altruistic behavior.

Those who are emotionally compassionate to others can find that they themselves find happiness and health in their own lives. Service matters, and it pays off. Like they say, what comes around goes around. Let’s make sure that we are seeking for service opportunities, even if it’s only within the walls of our own home. It makes a difference in more ways than many people realize.

 

Remembered for smiles…

 

“Don’t worry, be happy now.”

 

Remember that first smile of a young baby? So much joy is given to any bystander near when a young baby smiles for the first time, and any time thereafter. Smiling is contagious. It is very hard to not smile when someone smiles at you. Smiling can add to longevity of life according to study called “Happy People Live Longer: Subjective Well-Being Contributes to Health and Longevity”. It’s hard to be happy all the time, but it’s even harder to be angry, express negative emotions and be the old negative spinster down the street when we are smiling. It’s like the old Frank Sinatra song that says, “when your smilin’, when you’re smilin’, the whole world smiles with you.” It’s so true! Fake it till you make it and try smiling throughout your day! Of course its not going to make all your problems disappear, but perhaps it can make you perceive your problems in a different light.

 

It’s all about our choices.

 

In J.K. Rowlings, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Dumbledore is talking with Harry in his office and gives this gem of wisdom to Harry. He says, “It is our choices, Harry, that show that we truly are far more than our abilities.” Our choices matter. Whether we have tons of time and resources or whether our time is limited, it’s what we do with each minute of our day, our attitudes, and our intentions that matter. I hope that I can be remembered for being a kind, loving, giving person who always strived to make good choices. I challenge you to think about this week, what your choices say about you, and how you will be remembered when the time comes for the whole world to read your obituary in the paper.

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