I officiated another funeral recently. It was an untimely death of a cherished Madison native son.
I realize that my profession, like that of funeral directors, fire fighters, police officers, nurses, doctors, etc., deals with death on a regular basis. It’s part of the job. As a coping mechanism, I’m likely inclined to over-process the subject to keep myself from being overwhelmed and discouraged death. Hence, I write.
When I meet with relatives of deceased loved ones ... especially untimely deaths of younger individuals, I often notice a real disconsolate look in their eyes. It’s almost haunting. Their eyes beg the questions...
Did I hug enough?
Did I love enough?
Did we laugh enough?
As a pastor, it is expected that I asked good thought-provoking questions at funerals:
Have you considered your lifestyle?
Are your affairs in order?
Have you made peace with the Lord?
I’d like to add a few more practical questions as well:
Are you setting good goals?
Are you valuing your life and those who are touched (positively or negatively) by your life?
Are you taking care of your health?
Are you giving back to society?
Whose needs are you concerned with besides your own?
Although the funeral that I officiated was sad because the deceased had left way too soon. It was so refreshing to hear all the friends and family affirm with their comments that in fact they had hugged, loved, and laughed with their deceased loved one. As a pastor...and as a man...I love to hear this.
Today is a gift. We each have choices at our disposal. We can choose to make memories or merely live with the ones we currently have. We can choose to love, affirm, forgive and support, or not. We can choose to take action today that will yield pleasurable memories tomorrow and the day after that. Or, we can choose to be complacent and shortsighted.
In addition to each person answering what they would do if today were they last day on earth — I want to ask people what would they do if today were their first! Once we wrestle with the reality of death, the time comes to wrestle with life, love, and opportunity.
I’ve officiated enough funerals that I am comfortable asking the hard questions about death. People are almost unfazed by that question anymore. I want people to squirm beneath the heaviness of weightier questions that pertain to how they’ll live life. Perhaps funerals are not merely about contemplating the imminence of our own deaths, but also about contemplating the imminence of our own lives.
We are over two-thirds of the way through 2012. Are you where you want to be? Are you doing what you wanted to be doing? Are you living to regret which leads to regretting to live? Your life matters. It’s not too late to lose weight, enroll in a class, look up an old friend, or reconnect with an estranged relative. It’s your life and it will either lead you to a road of regret or celebration. Make good choices today on how you live by making choices that you can live —and die with.