Why it helps to write your own Eulogy

By Somali K Chakrabarti

The year is 2060. Occasion is your funeral. Your friend is preparing an eulogy for you. What would you want him/ her to say?


As odd or morbid as the question may sound, you’ll be surprised to know that this is one of the assignments given in the Leadership program at the London Business School.

Not as easy as it seems, it takes a lot of introspection to come up with the eulogy, in the process making one reflect on different aspects of life ranging from career, to family, friends and society in general.

Life must be lived forward, but can only be understood backwards.  [Tweet this]

Going ahead in time, and planning life backwards can help us to understand what really matter to us, how we would want people to remember us.

Steve Jobs

Several thoughts had crossed my mind as I sat to attempt the assignment.

Life is a finite resource

First, it served as a strong reminder that our life has an expiry date, post which we live through the memory of our family and friends.

I asked myself  ‘How would I want people including my family, friends, social acquaintances, colleagues, to remember me.’ As a responsible, credible and a competent person? Of course Yes. As a cold, manipulative, incompetent or a nasty person? Certainly not.

Image we want to cultivate vis a vis Life we want to live

The second question that cropped up was ‘how feasible is it to live the way that I want people to perceive me.’

This was the more difficult question to answer objectively.

How a person is remembered after death is directly a function of how others perceive the person during his/ her lifetime.

On the whole there are three elements to it :
  • how you want people to perceive you as, and what you want them to remember you for.
  • how you would really want to live your life.
  • what is practically feasible.

A few people for whom these elements are in sync are the fortunate ones who have found their Raison d’être or the reason to live for.

However for most of us, there is likely to be a gap between the three.

How you would want people to perceive you could be different than how you would want to live your life.

For instance, to be perceived as a good parent, a supportive spouse, a dutiful son /daughter one must live up to the expectations and meet the demands of the family. Where the demands of your family are different from what you wish to do in life, you have to find the balance between remaining true to yourself and living the life that is expected of you. The added constraints of time and resources require that you divide your efforts between meeting expectations and fulfilling your own wishes.

If the gap is wide, the dilemma increases further.
A stingy or manipulative person, who wishes to be remembered as a warm and large hearted person, will have a tough time playing the role. Likewise, it will not be practically feasible for a person with limited means to be perceived as one living in abundance for a long time.

The idea of the exercise is to develop clarity on the perception that you want to create and the life you want to lead, with the objective of figuring out practical ways to bridge the gap between the two.

Reiterating the exercise every few years can help you to develop awareness about yourself, understand what you stand for, personally and professionally and consciously chart out a framework for navigating through the twists and turns of life.

Lastly, it is universally true, that while different people have different yardsticks for themselves, almost everybody wants to be remembered for their contribution to something that is important to them, be it their family or their work; hardly anybody ever wants others to remember them as a redundant person. That is exactly why it helps to write down your own eulogy.

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One thought on “Why it helps to write your own Eulogy

  1. Bhudeb Chakrabarti 12 December 2014 Kolkata
    Your profound Blog helps us to ponder over our finite existence and exhorts us to comprehend infinity .You may kindly keep up your probe to pose soul stirring questions for the people to find the answers .

    Liked by 1 person

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