As I have grown older, have developed the habit of checking the obituaries. This practice has provided me with significant life lessons.
I’m still alive. The first thing I do when checking obits is to look for my name. So far I have been pleased with what I have found. It would be terrible to die and not know it.
I have lived longer than many. Lately there are lots of people younger than me listed in the obits. Many never lived to get married or have children, I have. I even have grands and great grands. I have had a great family and a life filled with great experiences. If I died today, it would have been enough.
Lives are very different. Although there is a certain commonality to obits, there is enough difference to show the great variety of life. Many obits are long and full of “achievements.” Others seem to struggle to come up with something, “He was an avid television watcher.” “He loved a good joke or a great meal.” “He was liked by some.” I think I will start drafting my obit today.
Don’t tell the whole story. Obits are not really very helpful unless you knew the deceased. They certainly don’t tell the whole story. They always list the “survived by” and the “preceded in death by.” Perhaps they should give a balance sheet. How much did he make? Did he leave anything? Perhaps there should be an actual count of those who will miss him and those who are relieved by the departure. A resume’ might be helpful. What jobs did he hold? Which did he quit and how many times was he fired? More detailed resumes would greatly increase interest in the obituaries and might even motivate some to be a bit more result oriented.
Don’t tell where he is. Most frustrating of all, we don’t know where the deceased is today. I mean, isn’t that the whole purpose of this life? Aren’t we suppose to be qualifying for the next? On this crucial point we don’t get a hint.
So these are the lessons: The more time we have been given; the more is expected. If we are still here, there is a reason. There is still work to be done. We don’t know the most important thing about everyone in our lives, their eventual destination.
Back to that first lesson; I’m still alive. It would be terrible to die and not be missed. To be gone and to not have made a difference. Since only one thing really matters, we should be making sure, that we are headed in the right direction and to the best of our ability, that everyone we know is coming along. I have found that lecturing, preaching, judging and condemning isn’t very helpful. Loving like Jesus seems to be the only thing that works and thus is the only thing that matters.
I think I have that obit of mine written. “As best he could, he loved like Jesus loved.” Now I just have to make it so.
It would be terrible to die and not know it.