Whistling Through the Graveyard

All ages

Some of the most meaningful and profound conversations I've had with my kids have been in cemeteries. No long car trip is complete in our family without pulling over at a roadside cemetery to stretch our legs and ponder the amazing situation we're in.

Choose well—at least a century of age and a good variety of headstones is best. No need to script it. A kid who has never heard that death is "morbid" or otherwise been shielded from healthy engagement will immediately begin to shout out discoveries. There will be tragedies—the 19-year-old who died in 1944, most likely a soldier; the wife followed just weeks later in death by her husband; a father and his 7-year-old son gone on the same day; infants and young children; a dozen dead in a single winter, perhaps from an epidemic. But there will also be the 108-year-old matriarch whose name matches that of the town, expressions of familial love, and endless evidence of lives well-lived.

If you've found a cemetery that includes epitaphs—Beloved Mother, Artist and Visionary, He Made So Many People Happy, etc.—muse aloud on what you'd like your own to be. What brief sentence sums up the life you hope to be remembered for? The kids will need no invitation to chime in with their own—or to suggest what yours should really be!

If you find yourself thinking these activities are somehow too ghoulish, snap out of it! Give the cemetery walk a try, then drop me an email of thanks.

Related topic of conversation:

Imagine your own funeral. What would you want said of you? What do you fear might be said? What can you do right now to change the "script"?

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