Making a Eulogy List, not a Bucket List

I recently went to the Memorial Service of a friend’s grandpa. Now, I had only met his grandpa one time, but after hearing the speeches at this service, I could have given a short synopsis of this man’s servant heart and his love for God and family.

The eulogy is like the window into the true heart of a person. You won’t hear about the size of their home or the 37 cruises they took, but you WILL probably hear about the time they saved a friend or influenced a young child.

There’s been some talk on the web about creating a Eulogy List v. a Bucket List, ever since David Brooks wrote this editorial for the NY Times. In it he said:

“We all know that the eulogy virtues are more important… But our culture and our educational systems spend more time teaching the skills and strategies you need for career success than the qualities you need to radiate that sort of inner light. Many of us are clearer on how to build an external career than on how to build inner character.”

This is fascinating, yet concerning. I know how to keep a clean home and feed my children healthy meals, but are those the issues I want people to talk about at my funeral? Or maybe I can drive like Richard Petty (that’s what Mr. Y says) or talk as fast as the Hot Wheels dude, but those aren’t really the traits I want talk about when I’m lying dead in front of the speaker.

While I definitely think it’s important to make goals and have dreams, and I myself have a list of places I’d like to go before my time on earth expires, I can’t help but shake the feeling that the Bucket List is unimportant because it’s all about ME while the eulogy list is of most important because it’s about how others have been affected by my life.

Making a eulogy list, not a bucket list

My grandma passed away almost 2 years ago and I was able to write a eulogy for her funeral. The thing that kept coming back to me as I wrote was how much she valued her time with me. Her face lit up when I came through her door. She was genuinely happy to see me and eager to sit and listen. Her name was Martha, but she had a Mary heart – she unknowingly blessed me with the gift of her time. When anyone was at her home, they were the #1 attraction and her actions reflected that.

I’m not sure I do well at giving people my undivided attention. I know I’m easily distracted by my phone and the things on my agenda. If I died today, I’m not sure people would be running to the church podium to talk about my gift of time.


There are many other things that I wonder if I’m really generous enough with:

my faith

my money

the legacy of my children (i.e. knowing that they have the values that Mr. Y and I stand for).

I guess a Eulogy List can be considered an Intentional Life list. When you list the values your family has, and are intentional with your time (based on that list), it’s much easier to know that you’re living in line with your values. If you want to be intentional with making eye contact and focusing on your children, you’re going to have to turn off the TV or put down the cleaning list and instead play a board game or throw a baseball. (<- a sermon to myself).

There will always be seasons of life. And I’m definitely not a guru on time management, let that be known. Your values for your eulogy list may not be mine. I value Christ and so I deeply hope that my faith impacted another!

Even though I love to travel and write about travel, my #1 treasure is people. I guess I know the start of my Eulogy List…

What do you think? Do you have a Eulogy List or a Bucket List? Are you more apt to make a Eulogy List now?

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