Monday, August 16, 2010


There's something amazing that happens to me whenever I attend a funeral. As friends and family members step up to the microphone and share their fondest memories of the departed, I can't help but wonder who will stand up at my funeral, and what will they say about me when I'm gone?

I know what I'd like them to say. I'd hope that my best friends would tell stories of how I've encouraged them or about a time when I helped them in a time of need. I'd hope that my wife would share about how thoughtful a husband I was. I'd love to think my sons would stand and share about how something I taught them about life, or about character, or about integrity had stuck with them through the years and allowed them to grow as individuals. I'd love to think that the crowd would be full of people who were inspired by my writing or my books, or who were touched or blessed in some way by my acts of service or compassion.

I'd love to think that, on the day they put me into the dirt, there will be a church somewhere filled with people who were blessed and touched and inspired by my life.

But the question, of course, is will there really be anyone eager to say these things about me?

I recently watched a little-known film called "The Lookout" which I really enjoyed. In the film, the main character is a young man who made a mistake on his graduation night that took the lives of his best friends and left him with a severe brain disorder. In the film he struggles to remember simple instructions due to his brain damage. He has trouble with completing things in sequence.

There's a scene in the film where one of his friends gives him some advice on how to accomplish a simple task. He says, "Start at the end and work backwards from there." When he tries it he discovers that it works, and this becomes a great metaphor in the film for how all of us can cope with our struggles.

I think of that statement now as I ponder what my funeral will look like. I have a picture in my head of what I'd hope that day to look like and how I'd love for things to play out as friends and family gather to remember my life.

The best way for me to insure that my vision of that day comes to fruition is to start at the end and work backwards from there. It means I need to live my life today in a consistent and intentional way. If I want my wife to speak glowingly of my thoughtfulness at my funeral, it means I need to be sure to be thoughtful to her today. If I want my sons to tell stories about how I inspired them to be better men of God at my memorial service, it means I have to inspire them today to be better men of God.

What do you hope your friends and family will say of you on that day? Maybe we need to consider this as we live out our daily lives. Maybe we should start at the end and work backwards from there?

It's your funeral.

Originally published on the [Subversive Underground] in 2008.

1 comment:

Johnny Brooks said...

Not sure what I would want said at my funeral. Actually have never really thought about it. I suppose I would want people to celebrate life. Mine, theirs, and everyone who was impacted by me being here.

Speaking of backwards movies, Memento is a decent movie that starts at the end and works it way to the beginning.