I know what you are thinking. Joan is writing about death AGAIN. Not really. Okay. Maybe just a bit. A eulogy is not actually about death. It is about life. Your life. Think of it as a mini autobiography. If you take the time to jot down your story, you get to say what you want about yourself-the good, the bad and/or the ugly. Who knows more about your life than you do? As a self-confessed control freak, I want to be in charge of what gets said about me after I am gone. Also, on a larger scale, writing your own eulogy and sharing it with your family and friends gets people talking about death, which is such a taboo subject in our culture. I talk about death, write about death and do not fear death. Why? Because NONE of us are getting out of here alive. This post is long, so I hope you will hang in until the end. There is a poem (not written by me) that I hope provides food for thought. Happy reading!
Joan was born in 1960, the first offspring of German immigrant parents. She grew up in the idyllic Village of Greenhills, Ohio where everyone knows your name (and your business).
Joan was afflicted with an eating disorder in her early teens and dealt with this issue almost daily throughout her life. While Joan believed that regret is a waste of time, she wished that her issues with food and body image had consumed less of her precious time on earth.
Joan graduated from high school and went on to attend not one, but three different universities in pursuit of a degree. She finally settled on Psychology as a major, but never fulfilled her dream of being a licensed counselor. In the end, she knows that she counseled many friends and acquaintances throughout her life. She just didn’t get paid for it, which made it even more rewarding.
Joan loved to laugh and often surrounded herself with people who were able to channel their inner comedian. She herself was born with a sense of humor, not a trait one thinks of as common among stoic, stiff, play-by-the-rules, Germans. Later in life she married a Guy with his own comedic genes. They often bantered about who was the funnier one. She now concedes that he was George and she was Gracie. (For the younger folks, you might have to Google this reference in order to “get it.”)
Joan had a giving heart. She always believed that if she had found her way to enormous wealth, she would not have squandered it on lavish homes and fancy cars, but would have chosen to give much of it away. Joan lived a middle class life that was below her means, so she gave when and what she could. A few dollars here and there add up to a lot over the years. She WAS blessed with the gift of time and so began a lifetime of volunteering. As a teenager, she worked as a Candy Striper for a local hospital. In college, she was introduced to hospice work. She believed that those who care for people at the end stage of life do not do it as “work,” but rather as a “calling.” She was called to spend time with the dying and their families volunteering with a few different hospice agencies. She also donated many hours working with the local chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as well as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). It was and still is her greatest wish that horrible diseases like cancer and diabetes are eradicated soon.
Joan had several jobs throughout her life. She was a Department Manager, Retail Buyer, Aerobics Instructor/Personal Trainer, Administrative Assistant and HR Generalist. She did not consider one job better than another as they each provided an income, introduced her to TONS of people and aided her in honing her work ethic. She was starting to believe that in today’s workplace, “work ethic” is being replaced by the “whine ethic.” So many prefer a little Chianti with their paycheck.
Joan LOVED to read. If she had kept all of the books that she spent time with throughout her lifetime, she believed that her library would have shelved hundreds of works penned by authors she loved including Pat Conroy, Nelson DeMille, John Irving, Anne Lamott, David Sedaris and many, many more. She also liked to write. She knew that her posts on her blog, Joan’s Jottings, would outlive her. It was the one place where she was “published,” though not in the literal (and often elusive) meaning of this word. She thanks everyone who ever took the time to read her posts.
Joan also LOVED to talk. Probably too much. She was spirited and opinionated and this was clear when she spoke. She apologizes to all who were held hostage as she droned on and on and on about the topic or topics of the day. Joan was once told by a fifth grade teacher that she had “diarrhea of the mouth.” Joan always remembered these harsh words, but as she matured, she realized that she had disrupted MANY a classroom as the teacher attempted to complete their lessons. As a way of cleaning up her Karma, she apologized to many of her former teachers when she moved back to her hometown in 2001. She was unable to connect with Mrs. Diarrhea of the Mouth while here on earth. Joan hopes to catch up with her on the other side.
Joan described herself as a Runaway Catholic. In her third decade of life, she found her way to a set of beliefs that were more spiritual and less religious. She devoured books on spirituality and was blessed to cross paths with many kindred spirits. One of these kindred spirits informed Joan that she was an old soul who had chosen this lifetime as a way to experience accelerated growth. Joan’s spiritual beliefs boiled down to a handful of tenets that aided her in her growth. These tenets morphed into the religion of joan, of which Joan was the only card-carrying member.
Joan was a wife and mother, though these titles proved to be transitory. She earned the title of “widow” at the youngish age of 41. This loss left her as a single mother of a three-year old boy. She did her best to raise the boy as a decent, caring, productive member of society despite the fact that the Universe continued to challenge them. It turned out that the boy was also an old soul who, too, had arrived here to experience accelerated growth. Unlike Joan, he only needed 20 years, one month and one day to complete his earthly lessons. His sudden and abrupt departure left Joan questioning EVERY tenet of the religion of joan, as well as every single thing she did or did not do as a parent.
Joan understood that she was here on her own karmic journey. She had chosen to enter this lifetime on 8-16-60, chosen her family of origin, and chosen the lessons that had come her way. She has no regrets, and is hopeful that the accelerated growth she experienced on earth aided her in elevating her light and vibration. She knew that she would only be able to receive answers to her MANY questions once she crossed over.
As Joan sat down to write this eulogy, she listed her “dates” as 1960-2018. She did this for two reasons. She penned this mini autobiography in August of 2018 knowing that she could feasibly pass at any moment since NO ONE is promised tomorrow. Secondly, even if she does not actually cross over in 2018, a huge part of her did die on March 6, 2018 when her only biological son departed this lifetime. There are 58 years between the dash, which reminded Joan of a poem she once heard (ironically) entitled, “The Dash.” She included it in her eulogy since she believed the words need to be read and heard. What will your “dash” say about you?
I read of a man who stood to speak at a funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning…to the end.
He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time they spent alive on earth and now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own, the cars..the house…the cash. What matters is how we lived and loved and how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard; are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left that still can be rearranged.
To be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile…remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.
So when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s actions to rehash, would you be proud of the things they say about how you lived your dash?
by Linda Ellis
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