Why it’s so valuable to think about who will show up for your funeral.
I am a big believer in beliefs. I like a good framework to guide my actions and behaviors. And as I wrap up the last few weeks of my 40s, I have been planning for a great new decade ahead. Heck, AARP has already invited me to the party.
I am wiser than I have ever been. The important things in life keep getting clearer. That’s why I approach my next decade with a new funeral mindset.
In this mindset, I regularly imagine the sanctuary where my bon voyage service will be held. No sound. So commentary. Just the attendance.
I am focused on who and how many people will show up. And who will shake the pews for me. (I come from a family of pew shakers who laugh silently at everything we find funny in church.)
I have always been concerned that I wouldn’t have many people show up for my last shindig. It’s a healthy concern about what happens if you do the wrong things in life. When I was in college Jeffrey Dahmer’s funeral was at my church in Madison, Wisconsin. I planned to go because I thought that would have been an interesting life experience. And it would have been. But I had a class at that time and decided not to skip it. I read in the paper that only 26 people attended the service. I expect most of them were there to confirm he was really dead. And to finish the job if he wasn’t.
Dahmer did bad things that left him with a lonely funeral.
I want to live each day in the opposite way. Which means collecting as many friends as possible. Maintaining and strengthening my relationships with my friends, and family. Conducting business in a fair and honorable way. And having a strong positive impact on my communities. I want to have a positive impact on people in both my innermost circle and my outermost rings of influence. And I want to remember not to eat anyone.
I want to be known as a listener. And as someone who shows up to help. I want to be known as a friend. I want to be enjoyable to be around. I want to share my time and knowledge with other people to have a positive impact on their lives. If I do all those things, at the end of it all, I hope people will dress up and come shake a pew with me for an hour. But just to be safe, I’m going to insist on serving delicious ham sandwiches afterward. And maybe free beer.
Always keep your funeral attendance in mind. Live in a way that will pack that house with those you have positively impacted. Put effort and care into your relationships. Build bridges. Mend fences. Share your gifts and lessons. Create great memories. And set a strong example for others to follow. Be a positive force in your communities. And the community will show up to confirm your contribution.
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