April 6th is Epitaph Day. And yes, I know that sounds like an odd way to start a blog post. But I must ask, what do you want your epitaph to say?
I’m not really talking about a funny epitaph, although there are some good ones out there.
“Damn it’s dark down here.”
“Pardon me for not rising.”
Ludolph Van Ceulen (first person to determine the value of PI to 35 digits)
“I told you I was ill.”
“There goes the neighborhood.”
Then there are serious epitaphs that tell you the story of the person who is buried there or perhaps the cause that they were fighting for. For instance, Leonard Matlovich was the first gay serviceman to purposely out himself in the military to fight for gay rights. His tombstone doesn’t even have his name on it. It simply reads:
A Gay Vietnam Veteran
When I was in the military
They gave me a medal for killing two men
And a discharge for loving one.
Martin Luther King Jr.
“Free at last. Free at last.
Thank God Almighty
I’m Free at last.”
So serious, and yet these epitaphs say so much about them. When you read them, you understand who they were and what their life was about.
And that’s what I want you to think about. I think asking yourself what you want as your epitaph is an important question. Is it enough to merely go through life existing, going from home to work to home again? Or do you want more? If you want more, you need to know where you’re going and why you want to go there. You only get one shot at this thing called life, let’s make it worth talking about.
I’m not here to judge what you think is important. That’s up to you. But it is important for you to figure out what it is you want to accomplish in life. That’s an important part of Vision Board and Goal Planning. Thinking about the end of your life is one of the first steps in planning for your goals.
- What would you regret not having done or at least tried by the end of your life?
- What do you hope to accomplish before you die?
- What do you want to be said about you at your funeral?
- What do you want to be written on your gravestone, what do you want your epitaph to be?
In The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying, author Bronnie Ware discusses the impact that working as a palliative care nurse had on her life. One thing that stood out for her was the most common regret that her dying patients had which was to be true to themselves. They wished they had the courage to live the life that they wanted and not the life that others wanted or expected them to have.
So I ask again, at the end of your life…what would you regret not doing?
Here are some more examples of epitaphs that tell you about the person, but maybe in not such a serious tone as the last two.
“I will NOT be right back after this message.”
(What I love about this one is he created it like a movie credit. After the word in, you can insert any of one of his 60 plus movies.)
“I’m a writer.
All are simple, a little fun, and certainly, tell you about the person and what they did in their life. And now, I’ll leave you with one final quote. This one comes from an interview John Wayne did and now it’s a quote on his grave. Not something I would immediately associate with him and I’m sure if you look for quotes, you’ve seen this one before.
“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life.
Comes into us at midnight very clean.
It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands.
It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”