Darryl is a friend of mine. He’s one of the last people who will let you down. You see, Darryl works for a funeral home.
Darryl’s role reminds people there is more to life than we often acknowledge. He spends his time near death and cemeteries. Most of us don’t.
In the past graveyards were found near the church building. It was a sobering reminder that what was talked about inside the church had a direct bearing on where you’d be someday outside the church.
We try not to think about it. But one ancient writer won’t let us. He says, “A good name is better than precious ointment and the day of death, than the day of birth. It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting; For this is the end of everyone, and the living will lay it to heart.”
When is it ever better to go to the house of mourning than the house of feasting? When we realize that death can open the window to life. The wise sage gives us some grave reminders of how to live a better life.
- He says to begin with the end in mind. I’ve been to many funerals. I’ve even conducted them. Each time you are reminded that someday people will be talking about you. Don’t you want to make it easy for them to say good things about you? “A good name is better…”
This author says to enjoy the pleasures of life. He’s no kill-joy. He says to love life: the love you find, good drink, good food, clothes, perfumes, and even our youth. He just wants us to remember that someday these things won’t matter. Begin with the end in mind.
- Then risk a change. You can write a different story than the one you are writing today. What changes would you make to your plot? What adventures would you script in that you’ve been afraid to attempt? How would you add more of what you’re missing right now into your life?
Nadine Stair was an 85-year old patient of Bernie Siegel. She was facing death and so went to the house of mourning to think about her life. She wrote these words:
“If I had my life to live over I would take more chances, I would take more trips, I would scale more mountains, I would swim more rivers, and I would watch more sunsets.
. . . I would have more actual troubles and fewer imaginary ones.
. . . And I would ride more merry-go-rounds, and catch more gold rings, and greet more people, and pick more flowers. And dance more often.
If I had it to do all over again. But you see, I don’t.
But if you’re reading this, you do. Go to the house of mourning. Begin with the end in mind. Risk a change. You’ve only got one life to love.
 Bernie Siegel, Peace, Love and Healing: Bodymind Communication and the Path to Self-Healing (New York: Harper and Row), 1989) 245-46.
Question: What risk would you take to write a better life story?