What will your eulogy say?

Death is the end. Or, is it?

I know it seems morbid to start on this note after a hiatus from blogging but circumstances have compelled me to begin here, at the end. I’ve never written a eulogy for anyone but have always wondered what it took to write one, especially if you’ve been close to the person.

eulogy, death, reflections

In memoriam pieces have come forth in the form of notes or poetry but much after the person’s demise. A eulogy is very instant but still well thought out, like a series of things you want to hold on to about the person and hope to somehow suspend time by putting it all down for people to hear or read.

Towards the end of March, I’d decided to take a sabbatical from blogging that would last two months and I was almost proud of having made it past one month. Almost.

Until I realised that I missed it and terribly so. What did I miss? The writing, the connecting, the reading, the sharing and pretty much all of it. As I blogged, I found that I wrote more and not just published pieces on the web. I consciously wrote more.

So, it was with some joy that I decided to break this self-imposed fast and resume blogging today. Every intent of mine pointed towards a travelogue of my recent trip (which I will still blog about) but this afternoon , news of a dear blogger’s passing put an abrupt stop to that train of thought.

Broken-hearted at the news I shared a short note, expressing my grief that she was no more and within hours, the outpouring of condolences on her wall was incredible. People she had touched through her words, her kindness, her indefatigable spirit, her zest to learn, her empathy with others, her need to teach- each post spoke so warmly of her that it was positively stupendous to see the reach that she had garnered through blogging.

And when I say reach, I mean the kind that touches a part of your soul that awakens goodness and kindness and everything in between.

Of course, we never speak ill of the dead but this did get me thinking, ‘What will people say of me, if I am gone tomorrow?’

Will they remember the things that matter? Will they speak of the values that I tried to bring forth? Will my friends speak unfailingly of me?

Or will it all crumble into oblivion, like the indistinguishable grains of sand on a very vast beach?

Before social media took over a large part of my professional life, I was the quiet one, invisible, unobtrusive and known only to my very close friends. While my online persona may say otherwise that hasn’t changed drastically in essence, although you’d think otherwise.

Don’t get me wrong. Social media is great! It bridges distances, brings people together, forges bonds and allows us to share our stories.

But social media, while connecting us has also brought out a dark side to our personalities- the need to be validated, to be liked, to be appreciated for the things we do.

The things we do- not who we are.

There lies the difference between a résumé and a eulogy, as evidenced beautifully in this short video by Arianna Huffington.

So, today, think about all the things that you leave behind and if you are a writer or a blogger, that includes everything you’ve ever written. Tomorrow, you may take your last breath. Your blogs will live forever.  What do you want people to stumble upon, long after you are gone?

What do you want to be remembered for? 

What will your eulogy say about you?

41 thoughts on “What will your eulogy say?

  1. I was shocked by her death. She led a beautiful and youthful life, bringing smiles to faces. Honestly, I wouldn’t know what to write but would love to do things that brings happiness to my soul.

    1. Completely agree. I was shocked at the way she suddenly left us. You’ve always struck me as a very genuine and warm person, Vishal. I am sure people would remember that about you 🙂

  2. I had read Tuesdays with Morrie some time ago and Morrie says it would be a pity not be able to know and hear all the things that people would say when you are dead! That kept me thinking about how right he was! And yes, I wish Usha ma’am had known what we all felt about her ‘before’ she left us. Thought provoking post, Shailaja.

    There’s so much I love about you, but the one thing I’ll carry to my grave is your support. You have been a strong support to me esp. in times when I needed you the most! In your own unassuming way, you have the gift of giving courage to someone in despair. Your words are soothing and yet they inspire one to get up and get going. That doesn’t come easily to everyone. So are special.

    What would I want my eulogy to say? hmm….I think it should say, herein lies the girl who made everyone smile, laughed a lot and who never grew up. 🙂

    1. ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ is one of my favourite books and I so identify with almost everything he says in it.

      I am so touched by what you’ve said, Shubhangi and very grateful to know I made a difference. That’s what matters at the end, right? You I shall remember as a fighter and as one who stood up for herself in times of duress and never gave in and didn’t compromise either on her ethics or her morals. <3

  3. I haven’t thought about this much, but I did think about writing ‘Obituary’ for O in the A-Z challenge and the first thing that came to my mind was ‘ the girl who never learnt!’ Haha! But a thoughtful post as usual 🙂

  4. I was having a conversation with hubby just a few days back…something on the lines of death and being remembered. Death is the end, for him and as far as he goes, it will not matter how fondly or if at all you are remembered or not. Whereas I realized how strongly I wanted to leave something behind, something that people will remember me by…something that will make them smile when they think of me. And yes our blogs will be forever… I’m just rambling on but oh what a lovely post that has got me thinking, on so many different levels.

    1. I agree. We want to be remembered as it’s such a primal part of our being, isn’t it? We never expect these things but they creep up on us, slowly and surely. Perhaps it will be enough- our blogs, I mean. They will be enough to keep us all happy for now and our readers happy long after we are gone.

  5. I don’t think it’s a morbid topic at all. These things must be pondered about when alive, only then will our living be worth it.

    Firstly, I’d like to answer your unasked question of what would my eulogy be for you. I am pretty sure I will add this line: The reason why I’m a better blogger.
    And i think this is how you’ve touched my life. Be it by giving me tips individually, or me learning from your blog posts, it’s been certainly better than any other way of learning about blogging, and writing! 😊

    If someone were to write a eulogy for me, I guess it would pretty much be on these lines- a total drama queen, and a complete sweetheart and loyal friend. But then I don’t know, maybe I’m just trying to look better than I actually am? 😊

    Glad that you’re back, Shailaja! Awaiting the posts on your vacation 😊

    1. Mithila, you sweetheart! I think your greatest gift is your power with words which is only matched by your honesty and love. Never change. I can’t tell you how glad I am with what you have said about me. So very glad.

      You will have a special place in my heart always <3

  6. I needed to think about this for awhile … in the end, I think I would expect people to carve “not a regular doctor” on my tombstone.
    Don’t know how much more they could fit in that stone though I’d like to think a few strangers would care… people whose lives we touched in some small way with the blog across the years.

    1. I think you would definitely be more than just a doctor for so many, Roshan:) You’ve brought so much joy and so many smiles to people all around you that it’s incredible. I will always think of your quirky sense of humour and immediate warmth that radiates from you as a person. Very glad to have met you 🙂

  7. From the few interactions we’ve had through social media ( a virtue, thankfully :-)) I can say that you’re a kind insightful soul gifted with a unique way of creating beautiful writeups and poetry. Heaven will love having you! 🙂

    I have no idea what people will say about me. I only wish no one feels I deserved it.

    1. That sounds very gratifying and I hope it’s true. It’s wonderful to go where you are wanted and loved. Of late, I have been wondering if I deserve it at all. Thank you for the lovely words. Yes, very glad to have connected with you through social media too.

  8. Oh! and I forgot to share about Usha ma’am. I would not have known her, if not you and BAR. So yesterday evening when I read about her death, it hurt me. I don’t know why, but I want no one to die ever. Death scares me.

    1. I know what you mean. Death is scary but it is inevitable, right? Best to be mentally prepared. That’s what I feel these days. As for you, you are one of the kindest, sweetest people I have ever met and that is what I will always remember about you <3

  9. I think of my eulogy and I would want people who love(d) me to come up and share what they feel when I would be gone and maybe I will ask God to let me hear all that was being said. Some funny ones like my friends would tease me, and some seriously loving us.
    I have always wanted to be remembered long after I am gone. Now I know with the internet and all the social media, my blog would be around.
    Welcome back, Shailaja. Missed you around.

  10. That’s something to ponder upon. I suppose I’d like to be remembered for my deeds that touched people’s lives. Well that is if I do so in the near future. As of now, I can only be remembered for the small amount of smiles I’ve managed to bring to my dear ones. And that feels satisfactory.

    1. I think that’s a perfectly lovely thing to be remembered for. Wonder what my child will say if I ask her to write a eulogy for me today? Will she say that I was always available for her? Hmm. Worth thinking about.

  11. Reading this made me think about what legacy (if we can call our words a legacy) will I be leaving behind.. Sure there are thoughts and stories on our blog but one day when everything will fade, only one thing will remain and that is the love we spread when we are still alive. It will live forever and that’s what I want to leave behind in the form of words if I can…

    It also reminded me of a poem I had written more than two years ago but never published it. May be I’ll someday..

    I never had much of a conversation with Usha Ma’am but her zeal was surely an inspiration for the blogging world. She’ll be missed.

    And yeah, welcome back. We missed you here!

    1. I think you should publish that poem 🙂 why wait? As long as you are not hurting anyone, it’s perfectly fine to put your thoughts down for people to read. Yes, to be remembered for our love is probably the best option.

      Thanks for the welcome 🙂

  12. That is indeed a thought-provoking question and the only thing I can think of is that I ‘was’ a kind person (which is true). However, I am still working towards making a mark in this world where I use my talents and creativity to serve others. I believe my mission is to empower and inspire youth to be authentic and unique individuals, via the expressive arts (through my children’s co-creative choir) though that hasn’t happened yet, and hope it will someday. However, I do my best to follow Spirit where it guides me on my life’s journey. I still have a ways to go and am definitely not ready to go, not yet! 😉 <3

    1. I think that’s a very noble mission Elly and one worth being remembered for. Wishing you all the best and yes, I can vouch for the fact that you are a kind person above everything else 🙂

      1. Thanks Shailaja! 🙂 And you, I have come to know as a sensitive soul with a penchant* for words and easy-style writing! (*That’s the word that came to me intuitively.) 🙂 So you touch and inspire others through your words. 🙂 <3

  13. Welcome back! You were missed. 🙂

    I had interacted with Usha Ma’am in 2012 when I first met her through blogging. Her urge to learn the A-Z of blogging and her routine blogging (she used to blog almost every day), inspired me like most others. Eccentric Grandmom she really was.

    As for the eulogy, never really thought about it. Mine might say ‘a quiet, shy and scared girl who broke all barriers to become an outspoken and independent individual’. If social media is still relevant when I breath my last, I am sure at least half of those my friend list will offer condolences to my family.

    1. That’s so gratifying to know. I am not sure if half of my friend list will do the same. I seem to have managed to earn my fair share of folks who have blocked me or written about me otherwise. I don’t judge them for it though. Each person must work through their own demons and I hope they find happiness in whatever they do.

  14. That was a lovely way to break the drought Shailaja :). Sad to dwell on of course, but we all need a healthy dose of reality, what with social media projecting these built-up images of our lives.

    1. Isn’t it? And how much we gain by both being online and off it. So much to learn and so much to share. Important to strike a balance. Thanks Apu <3

  15. It’s good to have you back, Shailaja! 😊
    Well, as far as you are concerned, I will think about you as the angel who came into my life and who taught me about being kind and helpful and a(n online )friend one could trust blindly (considering what a scary jungle the online world can be!). But, let’s not talk about your passing away. There’s still time for that. (It will be a very sad day for me, btw!)
    My eulogy might say, “a sensitive soul with too many ‘feelings’!” 😀 It will really depend on how I live my life…In reality , and not how people perceive the persona they know via social media.

    1. Aww, you make my heart glad, Shilpa. I have met some wonderful people online and you rank very very high on that list, I might add. As for the ones you trust blindly, I am honoured that you put me in that list. I am sure there will be a lot more people will say about you-the way you loved Chikoo, the way you reached out for help without feeling shy, the way you handled some crises in your life and most of all for that warmth that radiates from you.

  16. Mind provoking article, Shailaja. Your question just lingering in my mind. Yet to get the answer. I love to be remembered for my love to all rather than anything else. Thanks for inspiring is to think in diversified dimensions.

  17. Believe it or not, I’ve been thinking on the same lines. What would people say after I’m gone? Honestly, I cannot answer. Except for my immediate family that will miss me, I’m not sure I’ll be the talk of the town even when I’m gone. No, I haven’t done evil things but my close circle too is very limited 🙂

    1. I don’t want to be the talk of the town and I mean that in both the positive and negative sense 😉 I just wish I will be forgiven my minor trespasses and if the things I have said/done have harmed anyone I wish it is not too great a damage that cannot be repaired.

  18. That I was the reason for my dear one’s smile… I wish. But I guess we never hear any bad things in eulogies nah…. If only we could say all those when the person was still alive.

    And Welcome Back. 🙂

    1. You’re right. We don’t hear the bad and that’s probably for the best. I do wish we’d focus more on the good even when people are alive.

      Thanks for the welcome 🙂

  19. My eulogy would probably say, ‘he wrote those. And some more’
    Sorry. I’m like Chandler Bing – not good with morbid serious topics like death.
    Yours will probably say ‘She was full of Zen. And now she’s in the Zen-est place of them all’

    1. Oh! And welcome back. And yes, it’s great to see that Usha Ma’am touched a lot of lives. My interaction with her has been minimal but I hope to have at least half the zest for writing and life that she had at the same age. Assuming I live that long

      1. Thanks for the welcome back. Agree about Usha madam. It’s good to be blogging again. I doubt I’ll take such a long break again. Who knows? I may be dead tomorrow. (just saying)

    2. Well, that’s um..flattering. I think? 😀 But a little more than Zen would be nice. I know I’ve done a lot I am not proud of and there’s no way to erase any of that, to be honest and I won’t try.

      As for you, can’t you be serious? Just for once? Fine, I’ll make a note to say just that at your funeral. Oh and will bring my ‘Chi retrieval kit’ along 😀

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