Eulogies and Rewriting History
We have all been to a funeral and listened to a friend or family member of the deceased
read the eulogy. That tribute, written by a close friend or relative, always encapsulates
the positive attributes and successes of the person who has passed. It’s rare and taboo,
for anyone to speak ill of the dead, even if the last encounter wasn’t a positive
experience. The entire relationship could have been filled with struggles, yet once
someone dies, we tend to look at those struggles as educational experiences that
developed their character. Perhaps their shortcomings ultimately created a positive
impact rather than something inherently negative.
Why is it that we are able to acknowledge the good in others, and use their
circumstances as education so easily in a eulogy, yet find it difficult applying this model
for ourselves while we are living?
Human beings are their own worst critics. We tend to focus on our shortcomings. It
feels uncomfortable to talk about our achievements. If people tell us they’re proud of us,
we become embarrassed. Our failures tend to outweigh our successes. It’s difficult for
many to receive compliments, until they’re dead. Not many people are walking around
believing they are fabulous. Current culture promotes the belief that being proud of
ourselves coincides with narcissism.
The way we talk about ourselves when we’re alone, we would never dare say to anyone
else. I struggle with negative self talk. Things like; I’m fat, I’m too old, my skin is horrible,
everyone will hate me, if only I came from a rich family, I should have gotten that raise,
I’m stupid, why did I date so many sociopaths? I’ll probably end up dying alone,
homeless, behind a dumpster and I am a terrible writer. These are the running thoughts
in my head, for many hours of the day, every day. They are completely unfounded and
irrational, yet they have been my mantra. Perhaps you have similar ones.
Will people say these things in memory of you? Definitely not. They will say
wonderful things about your character and speak of your achievements.
We need to ask ourselves, why is it such a struggle for so many people to have a
positive personal view of themselves? What goes on behind the facade outside of
social media? Why do we often think so negatively about our lives, our bodies and
On a semi-regular basis in funeral service, funeral directors will consider what will be
said about them when they die. These are normal thoughts within the industry and
when dealing with death regularly.
I recently realized that what someone else says about me, up on that podium,
during my eulogy, is irrelevant. I will be dead. What is relevant? What I say and
believe about myself today while I am alive. This is the opposite of narcissism,
because a narcissist looks for validation outside of themselves by putting others
down. Self inventory of one's own positive qualities is not unhealthy, it can build
confidence and empower us.
Negative self talk is rooted in beliefs about our past. It haunts us and we aren’t even
conscious of it. It’s enforced by the notion that we shouldn’t be prideful. It has a huge
impact on our mental health. It is exhausting. We lose our accountability, our power
and our drive when we don’t believe we are good enough.
The absolute worst times in our past, whether self inflicted or not, are merely
circumstances. We cannot rewrite history, but we can choose how we think, feel and
react to these situations today. Our perception is what truly matters and determines
our present and future outlook.
We determine if we are capable and worthy of creating an impact in the world, nobody
else. Our thoughts determine our feelings and those feelings drive our actions. We
have all received the experiences and the knowledge to create an amazing future for
ourselves, even when the past is painful. Wondering, why me? is less important than,
what can I glean from that experience?
When writing a eulogy, people describe the deceased as someone who persevered,
despite their circumstances. Our legacy is determined not by what has happened to
us, but by choices and reactions based around those situations. Perception is
If you were to write your own eulogy today, would you want the way that you talk to
yourself regularly to be a part of that service? What would you say about yourself? How
we define, perceive, and talk to ourselves, matters more than any outside validation.
Every thought is a choice. Every single one of us is already smart enough, good enough
and fully capable and nobody is better than anyone else. Our brains need to be told this
Every one of us has goals, hopes and dreams. We all have a desire to make an
amazing impact on others and the world. Self confidence and determination are a major
part of achieving them. We cannot create self confidence or determination if our
perceptions are rooted in negative false beliefs.
Every moment we rewrite our history and our future, through our perceptions of the
past. Our beliefs ultimately determine our impact on the world. If you were to write your
eulogy would it be expressed with as much love and appreciation as the people who
would gladly write it for you? What we say about ourselves matters so much more than
what others will say when we’re gone. Maybe it's time to change what we are telling
Written by Kari Peters
Edited by Amy Setka
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