Assessment of life
By: By Don Harold Lawrence
An older person told me recently that as he approached retirement he made an “assessment of life” that helped him make peace with himself and prepare for the end of life. He said he knew he must be honest if this assessment were going to be accurate, else he would be performing an “exercise in futility.” He said, “Each of us is really three persons — the person we want to be; the person we project for others to see; and the person we really are, and we cannot hide from the person we really are unless we escape into a land of make-believe and denial.”
He noted how fortunate he had been in regard to serious health issues that could have ended his life if he had not had access to good physicians and modern medical facilities.
He discussed his appreciation for his boyhood home environment that had provided a safe place to grow up; parents who loved him, helped him meet and cope with the problems in his life and provided for his well-being and basic needs of food, clothing, shelter and medical care. They made sacrifices so that he could have a good education by attending college and graduate school that prepared him to be successful in his chosen profession.
He mentioned his appreciation of good friends and described the grief he experienced when some died. He said he had tried to do an honest appraisal of his professional work and career.
He said the most difficult part of this exercise was making a true assessment of himself as a person. He asked himself such probing questions as: what kind of person had he been; how had he dealt with adversity; how had he treated people; had he been honest, a person of integrity and guided by a sense of morality; had he been selfish or unselfish; had he cared about people and things beyond himself; what kind of friend, husband, father and grandfather had he been; had he been grateful for the blessings of life; had he been lazy or slack toward his responsibilities or worked hard and exercised his talents; had he given his employer an honest day’s work for his wages; and had he believed in a Supreme Being.
Though he never told me the results of his assessment of his life, he said that he had tried to be honest, accept the truth and make peace with the overall picture that had emerged. He said after the final assessment is made, we must exercise grace in accepting, affirming and loving ourselves “in spite of” the picture that emerges. He said for people who are fortunate enough to live a long life, this process is essential for closure in dealing with the inescapable reality of facing one’s own death.
When I asked him if I could quote him in this SUNRISE article, he said, “By all means.”
Don Harold Lawrence is coordinator of SUNRISE, which is sponsored by Shackelford Corporation. He may be contacted by mail at 145 Abernathy Drive, Adamsville, TN 38310-3001 or by telephone or fax at (731) 632-4483. His Web address is www.shackelfordfuneraldirectors.com.
Published in The Messenger 1.3.08