The most important things in life

12 03 2009

You can learn so much from listening to people giving eulogies at a funeral.

This afternoon I had the privilege of participating in a celebration gathering for a sweet little 91 year old woman.  As is generally my custom, and if the family agrees to it, I enjoy opening up the floor for those present to say something about the person.  This is actually the part of the service I call the “centerpiece” of the whole thing; a chance to hear people share memories from their life experiences.  Of course you never know what you’re going to get when you open things up like this…you could call it a risk (which I kind of enjoy…maybe what Forrest Gump would call “like a box of chocolates…”), but I’ve never really had an problems with any of the speakers (and today was no exception to this).  I enjoyed hearing the stories of this woman’s life from family and friends.  I laughed and cried with everyone else.

What this brought up for me again was this; what people talk about at these gatherings reveal what is most important in life: our relationships.  That’s really the bottom line.  What you’ll notice is that when speakers talk of events and shared exeperiences from life, it’s their relationship with the person that is most treasured, and the most lasting memory and legacy.  Notice it’s not the bank accounts, houses, cars, or stock portfolios that are discussed at all; these simply do not last, and in the final analysis are not important at all.

So it really begs the question, what am I treating in my life as most important to me?  Do I treasure the special people in my life and invest in them?  What will be said at my celebration of life gathering?  Or do I place so much emphasis on the accumulation and enjoyment of material blessings that there won’t be many relationship investments to speak of?  Hmm.  Something to consider big time. 

I’m curious about your experiences with what I’ve written about here.  Do you concur with my assessment as to what’s important in life?  Have you been to a funeral or memorial (or similar gathering) where someone didn’t have many relationships (or bad ones at that?)?  How did that make you feel?  I would love to hear your thoughts.

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2 responses

12 03 2009
Cindy Holman

I’ve been to Memorial Services where people love to “just hear themselves talk” and it has very little to do with the person that’s being honored – but I have also been to very moving services where the person was honored by not only attendance – but by the gracious word spoken. People usually do not talk about possessions – but about relationships. You truly can’t take it with you – so what impact you have made on others is a “key” to a happy life and a life full of purpose. That’s how I want to be remembered – someone who was a “giver” and who made a difference. Don’t we all?

12 03 2009
Greg Holman

Yes Cindy; I think everyone at some point in their lifetime (hopefully earlier in life not later) should attend at least one or two funerals so that they’re reminded of what’s important in life. Personally I’ve found these kinds of gatherings to be great “check ups” in this regard.

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