Shake up your life


Today I have been to the funeral of a friend who I knew for more than 30 years. This is the second funeral I have been to recently.

The first was to celebrate the life of a man cut off in his prime by bowel cancer (he was still in his 50s). He was almost literally ‘here today and gone tomorrow’ – the cancer was aggressive but he did not suffer for long. His funeral, held at the crematorium was one of music, colour, loving words and celebration. The crematorium was packed. I knew of this man, rather than knew him, but it was wonderful to see such a joyous celebration of life.

Today’s funeral of my friend was an altogether more traditional and quieter affair in a local Methodist Chapel. I went to my friend’s 80th birthday party earlier this year. As we say, she had ‘a good innings’, and she died after a very short illness and did not suffer as far as we know.

Any funeral leaves me thinking about mortality, and how much longer I can expect to live. It also leaves me wondering what people might say about me, if they say anything at all, after I die. Would they capture the essence of me? The eulogy at today’s funeral captured my friend’s life wonderfully well, making her instantly recognisable, but I’m not sure that it captured the essence of her. The essence of her was captured in her own words, which were printed on the back the funeral service sheet.

‘If you don’t shake up your life, all the good stuff settles on the bottom’.

My friend really shook up her own life at least once to my knowledge, and may be more times than I know. Her death has left me wondering about her words.

8 thoughts on “Shake up your life

  1. francesbell October 30, 2015 / 5:39 pm

    Oh Jenny, how I warm to your friend! People have told me that one of the bad things about ageing (as opposed to all the marvellous things like retiring and caring less about a lot of things) is that we attend more funerals, and our circle of friends can diminish. I feel as if I am on the brink of this.

    I guess it’s up to others to decide to organise a joyful celebration of our lives when we have gone but your friend’s words “If you don’t shake up your life, all the good stuff settles on the bottom’ seems like a wonderful epigram that captures her spirit. This made me wonder about where our friends and family might find our epigrams in the event of our demise- in our blog ‘About page, our Twitter bio? And also, how authentically ‘us’ that might be in the context of our whole lives.
    Now you have me thinking:)

  2. jennymackness October 30, 2015 / 5:53 pm

    And you have me thinking Frances 🙂

    Although the words ‘If you don’t shake up your life, all the good stuff settles on the bottom’ were my friend’s, it was her daughter and family who thought them significant enough to put on the service sheet.

    Whilst we might try and steer what we hope people might say about us after we have died, ultimately they will be the ones who decide – and we will never know 🙂

  3. lenandlar October 30, 2015 / 7:52 pm

    I love the “essence of her life” . I’m keeping it. Thanks for sharing. May we continue to learn from you for many many many more to come.

  4. jennymackness October 30, 2015 / 7:56 pm

    Thankyou Len. Needless to say I am feeling a bit low today so it is good to know that by sharing a small part of my friend’s life it may make a difference somewhere, somehow 🙂

  5. Rhonda Riachi October 31, 2015 / 8:46 pm

    What a wise motto and how wonderful that her family put that on the order of service. May our best sayings live on in others’ lives long after we have departed this plane of existence. With best wishes to you and all who miss your friend – Rhonda

  6. jennymackness November 1, 2015 / 7:15 am

    Thank you Rhonda. It’s good to hear from you.

  7. Doris Reeves-Lipscomb November 2, 2015 / 5:36 pm

    Jenny, we connected on LinkedIn just-in-time for me to read your blog post as well as the comments. The sentiments and wishes expressed here comfort and rejuvenate me. They make me want to stir up more good stuff from the bottom in my life and help others do the same. It also makes me think about my sister’s wicked sense of humor and struggle to keep going no matter what. Rayana died in May at age 58. I often repeat the benediction of my U-U family: Go in peace, make peace, love mightily, and bow to the mystery. Take care.

  8. jennymackness November 2, 2015 / 5:42 pm

    Doris I am sorry for your loss – and 58 is too young. You must miss your sister. What a lovely benediction. Thank you for sharing that. Wishing you lots of stirring up of the good stuff.Jenny

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