What will people say at your passing?

FJ September

In August, two musical legends passed away. Judith Durham and Olivia Newton-John were household names for at least one generation of Australians – if not more.

On my social media feed, I read countless tributes to these two performers, with many commenting on what their music had meant to them growing up. There were charming accounts of how particular songs were on the “pop charts” at the same time significant events were taking place in their own lives: break-ups and broken hearts, romances and marriage proposals.

Judith and Olivia might not have been your cup of tea, but similar sentiments were shared earlier this year with the passing of other music icons. Maybe the death of Meat Loaf, Chris Bailey or Archie Roach struck a sad chord with you.

As people expressed their sorrow about the loss of the musical genius of these performers, they also remarked on their other attributes. It was interesting to me what these commentators considered endearing: kindness and generosity, being brave and gutsy in the face of adversity, standing up for the underdog.

I thought about the above as I listened to a recent homily. The priest was asking us to consider what might be said about us when we die. A morbid thought maybe, but not a bad thing to think about. At the heart of the homily was the idea that we probably won’t be remembered by the amount of money or success we had, along with the reality that we can’t take either of these things with us when we die. Rather, those who leave memories related to more virtuous qualities are the people who might be remembered more fondly by those left behind.

As I pondered my own mortality, I realised I wouldn’t be remembered for my musical skills! Seriously though, such pondering requires honest self-reflection, and it helped me to make a mental list of those areas in my life which could do with a bit of work.

As someone who has been on the faith journey for quite a few years, it was helpful to take these reflections to prayer. I expressed my gratitude to God for the smattering of “nice” characteristics I possess, but I also asked God to help me in those areas where I’m maybe not so virtuous.

How about you? Have you ever thought about what might be said of you at your passing? If not, go gently with these thoughts. I encourage you to make space in your life to talk to God about what you discover as you think about the reality of your mortality.

What do you hope people will say about you when you complete your time on earth?


Words: Sharon Brewer
Image: Lightstock

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