A Eulogy for 2020. And Also For You.

The end is in sight for 2020, and we’re eager to leave it behind — in the dust of the grave we’ve been digging for it since the second round of stay-at-home orders. (The first order was novel and undeniably exhilarating. Now that we’ve been asked to keep our masked selves at home again, we’re slightly less amused with what was supposed to be a riveting but exceedingly brief moment in history.)

Anyways, I’m planning for my “Let’s Bury 2020 Alive” webinar (this Thursday the 17th at 1pm CST — you’re totally coming and can register here), and I got to wondering what people would say about 2020 if they had to be kind. Like in a eulogy, when it’s rare to talk about how much of an asshole someone was (unless you’re at a funeral with a lot of alcohol, animosity, and an axe to grind… leading to a heartfelt eulogy about “Why Uncle Jed Needs to Burn in Hell”). What would you write about 2020 in its eulogy, before we turf the dirt on its grave? What productive things, if pressed, would you have to say about this challenging year?

Enough about 2020, and more about you.

You have a homework assignment, and it’s called The Two Eulogies: 

Step 1: Write a eulogy for yourself, as if you died today. You aren’t going to die today, unless you are in hospice care, and if that’s the case — I am just your biggest fan for working on yourself until the very end. But really — write your eulogy based on the actual reality of the life you have lived up until this very moment. You can write it as though a collection of people who know you are gathering to write it together, or from a mystical 3rd person perspective. Have it reflect you and the actual life you have lived.

Step 2: Next I’d like you to shift to eulogy, 2.0. Imagine it’s way off into the future… you’ve had many, many, many, years and decades to live life well, totally in line with your values and strengths — honoring the things that truly matter to you and really living up to the things you do best, what you’re talented at. Imagine that you’ve epitomized your Most Alive Self (you know, the version of yourself that’s living wide with vitality and deep with meaning). Write the eulogy that reflects this life of yours — you at your absolute best, whatever that looks like to you.

Step 3: After you’ve written both eulogies, your job is to compare and contrast the two. Is there a gap between the ideal words you want said about you (eulogy 2.0) and how you’re living your life today? Of course there’s a gap. The question is, is it a gap or a chasm? And what parts give you that niggling feeling of unfulfillment, that might be worth addressing even in some small way?

One of my clients realized that in her 2.0 eulogy, her family and friends praised her for “always being there for them”, which would in no way be truthful of the eulogy they’d have written for her in eulogy 1.0. She committed to being more involved in their lives and felt that satisfying feeling of rightness for doing so.

Another client yearned to be eulogized as a smashing success, and felt motivated to get going on the business he’d been putting off starting for years.

And I can’t not think of someone I worked with who was convinced no one would even want to write his eulogy when his time came, which was profoundly impactful. He set out to build relationships and is now dating a woman who looks very unlikely to utter drunken slurs at his funeral.

There isn’t a recipe for the perfect life worth eulogizing, just like there isn’t a perfect year to look back on with fondness (byeee 2020). Pick one thing you’d like to be remembered for, and try being the person who lives like that in 2021. (And when in doubt, leave a rather conspicuous copy of eulogy 2.0 alongside your will.)

Jodi Wellman

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