A friend of mine recently had an interesting birthday idea that involved friends writing eulogies for them. It got me thinking on the idea of eulogies, specifically how they help us cope with life. Looking at life from the perspective of being dead is a far better view than we often take. A Eulogy makes decent peoples lives sound worth it. They don’t have to write a bestseller, become a famous artist or a grand inventor; they just need to have lived a good life. It shows what’s really meaningful in life; to have been a positive influence on those around you.
I’d often advise against seeing ones life from the view of being dead but that’s because of a particular pitfall I’ve seen often. It’s when you get too wrapped up in the idea of making your life into a story. You are not a story. Stories are fiction, they are not real. Stories about real people are still fiction, it’s just that there’s a massive amount of editing going on (how often are George Washington’s bowel movements mentioned?)
In a circular way, this flawed view from fiction is what necessitates the value of the view from death. We learn about so many great people in history or in the current media and we idolize them. Fame is, by definition, not something we can all achieve. We often forget this, seeing the good, yet common life as a failure.
Fictionalizing your own life can lead to very negative behaviour due to this disconnect. Eulogizing a living person can show you the value of being average. It’s good so long as you understand the caveat.