What Will Your Children Say At Your Funeral?
As our children were growing up, we often stopped at cemeteries on a long road trip to let the kids get some exercise or to deal with sibling conflict. That may sound like a morbid place to do such earthly things, but the kids enjoyed reading the epitaphs, names and dates. It made for some great conversations and teaching moments.
It’s so interesting that to this day our daughter Joy has a love of cemeteries. In fact, she lives a block away from her favorite one and almost daily walks through it to talk to God and think about life ….and the reality of death.
We will all die!
That’s usually not the first thing most of us think about when the alarm goes off each day, unless you are facing a life-threatening diagnosis.
I personally recall 10 years ago receiving the news that I had breast cancer. Death was a real possibility for me.
Those of you who have had that experience know what I am talking about. Our mind goes many places we don’t want to go and asks many questions that we may not like to answer:
Will I see the kids grow up?
Will I see them graduate?
Will I be there for their wedding day?
Will I experience having grandchildren?
But there is another important question we can ask ourselves even today - before life passes us by.
What will my kids say about me at my funeral?
That may sound like kind of a morbid question. But recently I was speaking at a funeral and later had a conversation about this very thing with a woman. She said, “Wow, I wonder what my kids would say?” I could see her taking the challenge to heart.
Life can be overwhelming on any given day. But I like living with the end in mind.
To live each day as if it was my last...
It helps me to keep life in perspective and challenges me to be accountable to God as well as to myself - to live each day as if it were my last.
I think of Psalm 39:4,5 (NLT) that says,”Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered..how fleeting my life is. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you.”
That is why Psalm 39:1 challenges me: “I will watch what I do and not sin in what I say. I will hold my tongue.”
This is not easy to do, and I often fail. But what motivates me to keep short accounts is the following question:
Would this be the last thing I would want them to remember about me?
As I often say, this is ALL about me….all about me doing what God is asking me to do.
Emerson developed an acronym based on biblical principles that can “guide” us in our parenting. When we seek to follow God’s simple plan as best we can, hopefully our children will say something like this at the end of our life:
Gave from a generous heart (even when I was ungrateful)
Understood me with an empathetic heart (even when I didn’t care)
Instructed me with God’s wisdom (even when unteachable)
Disciplined consistently and fairly (even when I resisted)
Encouraged my talents and gifts (even when I lacked confidence)
Supplicated (Prayed) for me consistently (even in poor decisions)
Our friend summed this up beautifully when he wrote to us on the one year anniversary of his wife’s death:
“It was on this day one year ago that Diane, my dear wife of twenty-eight years and mother of our daughters, was taken to Heaven, leaving earth with a strong sense of dignity and grace after dealing with a long bout of cancer… While we miss Diane’s physical presence, we have realized this past year what a strong legacy of love she leaves with us… I believe this is a tribute to Diane and how well she prepared us, and the legacy of her love for us that remains.”
After you are gone, will your children know you loved them?
From my heart,