April 6th is Plan Your Epitaph Day. Spring is in the air, the birds are back and singing flowers are pushing their way out of the ground and new life is everywhere, now let’s take a moment and think about your death.
Let’s get one thought out of the way, we are all going to die. It may be decades away or seconds away, but it is inevitable there is no escape. The question is how do you want to be remembered.
On a tomb stone there is your name and some dates, for instance Joe Clark April 1, 1928 – February 29, 2035. Do you see that little dash between the dates? That represents a person’s whole life. All they did and didn’t do, all of their hopes and disappointments all their laughter and tears are represented by that little dash.
After the name and date can come a sentence or two used to remember that person. There is a stone in England that reads “Here Lies Arthur The Once and Future King”. The great comedian WC Fields stone reads, “On the whole I’d Rather be in Philadelphia.” On another tombstone it reads “To Follow You I’m Not Content. How Do I Know Which Way You Went?”
If you leave your epitaph to your relatives, you may get nothing but your name and date, or something like “Beloved Mother” or maybe “Always Single and Never Happy.” Don’t leave your epitaph in the hands of some distant relation or a family member that is too bereaved to think of a thing to say about you. Who you were on this earth could be remembered hundreds of years from now if you write your own.
Maybe our friend Joe Clark might say about himself. “ I was a husband and father and I did the best I could”. Or “I set out to accomplish something good in my life and I did it”. It needs to be about you and who you were and how you want to be remembered.
I would go a step farther than this though and plan your own funeral. Choose the church or other building you want it to be held. Decide on the music and the flowers, specify who you want to give your eulogy. What passage of the Bible or another book that you want to have read. Be in the driver’s seat at your funeral. Write it all down, including your epitaph, and give it to a trusted friend or your lawyer. They can take it from there.
Plan Your Own Epitaph Day can be a great experience. Death is nothing to be afraid of and to go with all the loose strings tied up can be a great experience.