THE 4 SENTENCE EULOGY CHALLENGE

How do you want your life to look? What is the legacy you'd like to leave? Try this great challenge to determine how you'd like to be remembered.

WRITING YOUR OWN EULOGY

I know it sounds morbid, but a while back I read about a really interesting concept where writing your own short eulogy was a great way to narrow down your thinking about what was important to you, what you'd like to be remembered for, and what type of legacy you'd like to leave. 

The idea originated from Brooke McAlary's book "Slow" and it stuck in my mind as being a great idea to tackle on the blog, but I didn't know where to start, or how to make it something fun and interesting (rather than all doom and gloom). I had a light bulb moment when I thought that asking some fellow bloggers to share their 4 sentence eulogy ideas might be a great way to round out the post. So today we're tackling writing 4 sentence eulogies and why it's a fun idea. Below is the example Brooke gave in her book.

Brooke McAlary's book "Slow" 4 sentence eulogy

THE PURPOSE BEHIND A SHORT EULOGY

What we learnt from the writing process is that it's hard to say good things about yourself - to pick out characteristics that others would see and love in you. It's also difficult to put it together in a short succinct way that reflects who we want to be remembered for. It was tempting to ask others for input but ultimately it came down to how we saw ourselves.

It was interesting to see the six eulogies that I'm including from myself and the other five bloggers who joined me in this. You can hear the individual voices coming through and also the different way each of us has of expressing our thoughts and presenting them (Deb even threw in a limerick for good luck!) Some (like me) threw it together in a short time, others wrote a lot and then chose which bit to present, and others took quite a while refining their words and thoughts - and were a little bit "flexible" when it came to keeping it to 4 sentences. 

THE 4 SENTENCE EULOGIES

Here's how a group of Midlife bloggers saw themselves and I'm so honoured that they were happy to share their insights here with me. I loved that they enjoyed the challenge and pulled it off so well. Some of us made ours pretty, others just wrote them and sent them through - it's great how we're all so different.


Jo from And Anyways
A friend gave Jo a birthday card one year that read: “She believed that anything is possible so she grew wings and flew like an angel to the stars (she didn’t know that the back of her dress was tucked into her undies though, but hey, you can’t have it all…)” That was Jo – for her it wasn’t just possibility, it was the possibility of possibility; and she rarely stopped to think too hard about it. ‘Seriously,’ she’d say, ‘how hard could it be?’ Very often it turned out to be actually quite difficult, but she’d stay the course.

She dreamed big, loved unreservedly, trusted easily, forgave quickly (well, most of the time), was generous with all that she was, cried every time that Maria ran back over the grass to the kids in the Sound of Music and firmly believed that there was an Abba or Pet Shop Boys lyric for most of life’s situations. Mostly though, she did it her way.
Caring, considerate and committed the three C’s that made up the Sue that we know and love. Sue was devoted to her family and friends and was always there to show kindness, lend an ear or support to anyone who she felt needed it.

An ABBA tragic, quick to give a smile and have fun, Sue was also a high achiever committed to whatever project she took on. Never give up was her motto and her tenacity helped her to keep striving to achieve. As her daughter told her ‘everything you commit to you achieve and then some.

With a passion for inspiring others to be fit and healthy, she always led by example, running two marathons after 50. As another family member once said: Sue is the glue that keeps everyone together.


eulogy - Erica from Behind the Scenery

And finally, mine...

4 sentence eulogy Leanne from Cresting the Hill

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

What do you think of the idea of putting yourself into four sentences? Are you willing to have a go at it? I'd love to know how it goes if you do. Regardless, it's a great lesson in looking for our own good points and not always focusing in on our flaws.

RELATED POSTS


How do you want your life to look? What is the legacy you'd like to leave? Try this great challenge to determine how you'd like to be remembered.
How do you want your life to look? What is the legacy you'd like to leave? Try this great challenge to determine how you'd like to be remembered.

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Cresting the Hill - a blog for Midlife (Middle Aged / 50+) women who want to thrive

51 comments

  1. I was initially wary about this exercise and I found it very challenging. I learned a great deal, and isn’t that what life is all about. I enjoy reading the unique approaches and insights from everyone. As you say, Leanne, “individual voices.” Especially nice to read this while I am still above the grass. xx 🙂

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    1. Hi Erica - I think it's good to challenge ourselves and to think about the legacy we'd like to leave behind, because that determines the choices we make right now. I'm so glad you rose to the challenge and that ultimately you enjoyed it x

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  2. It really was quite an ‘interesting’ exercise Leanne! I can’t say I overly enjoyed it but I now have a better idea of what life means to me and how I ‘persist’ in ways I sometimes take for granted. Hope that makes sense!! I really thought everyone did a fabulous job of telling their story in just a few sentences and their voices shone though their words. Thank you for asking me to join in. It was a good challenge to be involved in with other bloggers who I consider friends, despite not having met most of them in person!!

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    1. Hi Deb - I found it a bit weird to begin with too, but when I thought about it as a way to measure whether I was heading towards being the person I'd like to be remembered as, it made more sense. I'm so glad you pushed through and found it useful too - and I loved all the different answers.

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    2. Yes it was great to read the different answers Leanne and it seems we all gained from doing it! I have shared on my Facebook page and pinned it for #mlstl

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  3. This was such a challenging exercise. While I was so tempted to do it in song lyrics (I'm such a pop tragic) my family thought it said what it should say.

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    1. I have a song for every occasion too Jo - I have my funeral songs all picked out and I think coming up with our own original thoughts was probably good for us (and I'm not sure ABBA has a funeral song??)

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  4. I like this idea and the examples shared here. I might try it. I always like when people include a bit of sparkle or fun so I would do that.

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    1. Hi Terra - I'm glad you enjoyed reading the examples - I'd love to have a bit of sparkle at my funeral - and one of those really pretty printed coffins - no pine box for me!

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  5. Hi, Leanne - Thank you for encouraging us to do this exercise. Thank you for not stating here that I was the cheater who had her husband come up with her eulogy. In my defense, it was a very meaningful activity for the two of us to share together. It was also very insightful learning what he would say. Now, if I can just live up to the person he believes me to be!

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    1. Hi Donna - there were no rules, so really you didn't cheat at all. And I like that your husband was happy to participate (and that he said so many lovely things about you) that's a sign of a good marriage IMHO!

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  6. Hi Leanne - I have only heard about people listing out their own strengths and weaknesses. Writing one's own eulogy is certainly something that I haven't heard before. Quite an interesting task. It sounds like a quite a creative exercise in introspection that helps us understand who we are and thereby helping us discover our own positives.
    Thanks for writing about this concept.

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    1. Hi Pradeep - that was the real challenge behind it - finding and owning our positives. It's so easy to say what we're not good at, and so hard to claim the good things we want to be remembered for. It was scary to put it out there, and I was so pleased the others were happy to share their's here on the blog.

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  7. What an interesting writing prompt! I'm gonna have to try this sometime - great writing exercise for everyone, not just those of us who write for a living! :)

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    1. Hi Flossie - I saw it ages ago and it stuck in the back of my mind because I thought it would be a real incentive to think about myself from a positive angle - change the narrative to the things that I like about myself - I'm not sure why we all find that so hard to do? You'll have to have a go at it sometime and let me know your results.

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  8. Wow! What an exercise in existential thought! I loved reading all of your eulogies. Now I must think about what I would write for my own. This is TOUGH!

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    1. Hi Laurie - I loved that it made me write something positive about myself - it's really hard to acknowledge our good points "out loud" because we were brought up to think that it was vain to be proud. Now I'm starting to think that they're our badges of honour.

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  9. I've got Brooke's book and had met her a few times back in our blogging days in almost a decade ago. I remember the podcast she and Kelly did as well and they talked about legacies and the eulogy (I might have written about it at the time) and I found it depressing as I felt there was little I could say.

    It was probably something that made me start thinking about making some changes to my life.

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    1. I found it really challenging to come up with something Deb - which is why I coerced a few of the others to add theirs - it made it feel fuller than just my tiny little life's contribution. I do think it's a great exercise for acknowledging the good stuff in our character - something we're not very comfortable doing. And fancy you knowing her!!

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  10. Bravo Leanne! I thoroughly enjoyed reading all of these eulogies. I have done a similar exercise in the past in terms of refining my values and reminding myself what attributes I want to work towards. In short, I hope people will remember me as a kind person who loved deeply, was open-minded and continually growing, a joyful person with quiet, calm strength. #MLSTL

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    1. Hi Christie - I think your description sums you up beautifully - and isn't it good to have some descriptors that you know you're showing - but can develop further? I know I've still got a long way to go to be the person I'd love to be, but to be working on it is a great way to grow and develop - and become a better human being.

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  11. I don't think this is morbid at all!. Oh how much I loved these! All of you sound like women I would love to know in real life.
    I want to hire Jo to write my eulogy.
    These go along well with my post today about leaving your legacy and telling your story!

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    1. Hi Michele - yes, the concept of a legacy is hugely important isn't it? Why live and die and leave nothing of yourself behind? It'd be a selfish life indeed if you did. I loved what the others wrote too - and how they were all different in their content and writing style (and yes, you can tell that Jo does it professionally!)

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  12. Fair play to all who did this, and shared ... I could not do it properly ,... I fear I would gild or play myself down ... and certainly my views of myself would not correspond with my teenage daughter's take on me!! #MLSTL

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    1. Hi Enda - I think that was the biggest part of the challenge - to look within ourselves and to acknowledge that there are some really good parts (along with all the not so great stuff) and then to develop those further is the next part. I'd really like to think that others remember some lovely qualities about me - and that puts the ball in my court to develop them! And I laughed at the teenage daughter reference - I'm sure my daughter would have had a few different descriptors for me when she was a teen too (and probably still has now she's an adult!)

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  13. Well. I certainly learned something I did not know about you....a quarter strength coffee..."what even is that?"...says me, double shot in small glass. This is seriously a very good exercise. Whilst I have not done that I have certainly heard of Brooke and her work. Denyse #mlstl

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    1. Hi Denyse - yes my weak coffee preference is sniggered at by some of my friends - I blame it on too many years of drinking rubbish instant coffee! I now ask for my "coffee on the side" and then I can make it to my exact liking - and one of my friends adds the leftover shot to her's!

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  14. Hi Leanne - I enjoyed reading all of these eulogies. Having followed all the eulogy participants/ bloggers and having met Donna and Sue IRL, I'd say the eulogies reflect everyone's qualities and personality very well. #MLSTL

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    1. Hi Natalie - yes I noticed that you could hear the "voices" in each blogger's writing and I loved how each was different - so interesting when we're all similar in our age and interests - but our writing is definitely influenced by our personalities and styles.

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  15. I've used creating your own Eulogy as a creativity prompt before. And when I plan for my Vision Boards I always start by looking at the end of my life first and thinking about what I want to be proud that I accomplished.

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    1. Hi Jennifer - you certainly have the reason behind the prompt figured out. A lot of people wonder why anyone would want to do it, but when you look deeper at the idea of a legacy and who you want to develop and grow into, then it all makes so much more sense. I really enjoyed it - and reading the other responses too.

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  16. Hi Leanne, what an interesting (and just a teeny bit frightening) approach to taking an honest look at ourselves through our own eyes. I loved reading all of the short eulogies, and they really spoke volumes about all of the women who wrote them. Very insightful!

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    1. Hi Candi - I loved that it was short and sweet and we didn't need to overthink it (although some said they found it quite hard to do). I think mine was a bit superficial, but it had a lot of the elements of what I want to be remembered for hidden within it, so I guess I achieved what I set out to do :)

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  17. Hi Leanne, as you know I did found this quite challenging but I agree with the concept. It was also very interesting to read what all of the contributors wrote and as I know them all, I agree with what they have written. Thanks for the challenge and stretching me to confront the fear of 'talking myself up'or worse not having anything to say! As always, it is great to have you as my co-host at #MLSTL. Sharing on SM :)

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    1. Hi Sue - you're so right about how difficult it was not to "talk ourselves up" or feel vain about writing something nice (and true) about ourselves. We've been so conditioned to play down our good points haven't we? I really hope I can work on that aspect of myself and start owning some of my better character traits so I can develop them more in the years ahead.

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  18. What a fantastic idea. I love all these eulogies. Your non-negotiables are great!

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    1. Hi Corinne - I loved how they each tackled the challenge and how individual each one was (just like their authors!)

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  19. How interesting. My husband keeps telling me "I want this song played at my funeral" or "You can say this about me in my eulogy," but I have never given it much thought. I don't want to be buried, rather cremated and the ashes spread somewhere nice like the ocean. Thanks for sharing this piece.

    Janet’s Smiles

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    1. Hi Janet - I've picked my funeral songs - one less thing for my family to do - I haven't actually written my "real" eulogy or selected the photo montage (maybe I should!) I think I'll be cremated too - maybe I'll put in my will that my kids have to keep me on their mantle shelf? :D

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  20. OH MY GOSH!! These are so very precious. So accurate to what I know of each of the gals. And yet I can imagine everyone struggling just a bit with writing positive, self-loving kinds of things. Sue does achieve everything she sets her mind to and more. Deb is so creative and clever. Donna has such a caring heart for others. Erica sees the silver lining. And YOU. I know you adore your family and those grandgirls. Love that you also appreciate sparkle.

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    1. Hi Leslie - yes you could hear each of us in our writing couldn't you? Isn't that the great thing about blogging? You get to have a little picture in your head about how each of us is and it's pretty spot on - I can hear you when I read your comment too!

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  21. What an interesting and meaningful exercise Leanne. I’ve just come from Erica’s blog where I just had to read her eulogy, amongst all of the others. Beautiful. And so incredibly life affirming and thought provoking. Well done on putting this together. Cheers to life and living each day as a gift!

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    1. Hi Miriam - didn't they all do it so well? I'm glad you popped over to leave a comment, Erica is like the friend we all wish we had in real life isn't she? I want to shrink the world so I can go for a visit to her place (Australia is a veryyyyyy long way from Vancouver Island!)

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  22. Thanks for sharing a few different ones... and since I "know" all these women, it was extremely enlightening! I'm still not sure I could do one on myself - I feel like I'll get it "wrong" for some reason.

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    1. Hi Pat - I put it off for a very long time because I wasn't sure how to broach the whole idea. Having the others agree to participate really helped me push through the reluctance and put fingers to keyboard. I'd love to see what you come up with if you were brave enough to tackle it.

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  23. What an interesting and extraordinarily difficult exercise! I find the thought daunting ... which means of course I will HAVE to try it 🙂

    The eulogy from Jo made me laugh out loud. Yes, now I have to go and check out her blog!

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    1. Hi Joanne - I do hope you give it a try. I found it really interesting - and you can definitely tell that Jo is a writer can't you! She inspired me to try to be more witty if I write another one some day.

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  24. A very challenging exercise, to be sure! Not only is it hard to make up nice things to say about oneself, but it’s also hard to write imagining the voices of those left behind. I’ve done exercises before where I’ve listed my core strengths, or listed the values I care most about. But writing it in the form of a eulogy — yikes!

    Jude

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    1. Hi Jude - I found it immensely challenging to think of something good to write about myself - and that I didn't feel awkward about someone saying about me down the track. I just wish I could have lived an exciting enough life that it knocked people's socks off - but there's still time....

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  25. Leanne, I read Erica's post referring back to your challenge. I enjoyed all of your blogger friends' eulogies especially Jo's. What a wonderful sense of humor. I also laughed out loud at the titles of your related posts. Would you be interested in having your challenge listed on my blog, Always Write? Is this ongoing? I have a series running right now interviewing bloggers who host challenges, both writing and photography. Let me know if you might be interested in participating. Email me at tchistorygal@gmail.com Have a great week, Marsha Ingrao. :)

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    1. Hi Marsha - I just popped over to your blog and checked out all your interesting posts. There are some amazing photos on there and I'd love to be interviewed (we have several blogging friends in common!) I'll send you an email and we'll chat some more. I'm so glad you enjoyed the eulogy challenge idea.

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