I learned a lot about a friend at his recent funeral. I thought I knew the man who was a teacher and mentor to me, but while I listened to the speakers and watched a poignant photo slideshow of his life, I realized I hadn’t really known him and what a rich, complex and vibrant life he had led. He was fond of poet Robert Frost, especially Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” The final phrase clearly underscored my friend’s unspoken life philosophy “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference.”
My friend’s “going away” party made me think of what my own might be like and whether I’m leading a life that is as wide and deep and memorable as I want it to be. As the founder of an aptly named non-profit called End in Mind, I think a lot about life and death. Yours and mine.
End in Mind helps people become comfortable with uncomfortable conversations around loss, grief, death and dying and we do that with live and on-line events, digital tools and podcasts.
If this sounds morbid, it isn’t. These conversations, while often hard, are heart based and life affirming, but we aren’t taught how to have them. While End in Mind works to change the conversation on death and dying, we’re thrilled with what our friends at Epilogg are doing to creatively celebrate life. I love the idea of taking obituaries into the 21st century. Why not memorialize a loved one with photos and video and make their life come to life instead of relying on a static, short notice in a newspaper? I believe no matter how it is done, telling stories about the dead is important. Those stories remind the living what is important in life and how little time we have to enjoy it. We often forget until it’s too late.
Cathy Wurzer is a broadcast journalist and founder of End in Mind Project (www.endinmindproject.org)