Looking Back At Your Life

November is a great month for taking stock. As you look back at the old year and prepare for the new, it’s the perfect time to take a good look at your life and where you are heading and by far the best way to do that is to write your own funeral service.

Bear with me here: sitting down to choose music and readings for your own funeral, as well as writing your own obituary, can be incredibly instructive. The first thing it does is to connect you with an ancient wisdom that teaches that it is by realising that your death is inevitable that you are more able to focus on fully living the time you have.

In my days as a parish priest, I once had an elderly retired bishop in my congregation and it was his and his wife’s practice to sit down each November and revise the plans for their funerals. The result was that you would be hard-pressed to find two more energetic, funny and life-filled people.

Now, we’ve all been to funerals where we have come away barely recognising the person we are there to honour. This is not what you want to achieve when writing your own funeral.

Here are some pointers to help you to avoid the pitfalls:

  • Start with the eulogy/obituary/tribute. This should be light on dates and places and heavy on personality and character – both the good and the not so good – so be honest! The choices you make in life can be most revealing of your character. Take time to look back at these choices and get curious about what they tell you about yourself.

  • Find readings, prose or poetry, that says what you want to say about your view of life and your attitude to things like being remembered after death, or your views on any life you may hope to enjoy after death.

  • Choose your music. Choose wisely, but choose boldly. Remember, this is your ceremony, no one else gets a vote at this stage.

  • Now look back at it all and allow yourself to feel the reality of the finite nature of your life and notice the healthy and unhealthy patterns that have delivered you to today.

You now have an incredibly valuable document. You have something to which you can return year after year. As it changes, so you will notice how you are changing. Even more than that, you have a snapshot of your life today and, by looking back at past choices - good and bad - you will gain insight into how to live well and to flourish in the time you have left.

Call 07530 007163 or email me at to to see how we might work together to tell your story...

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