OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

The Last Chapter (Inspiration)

How does the story end?

Photo of Stephen Yungbluth
3 1

Written by

Everyone's life presents a series of stories. Each story tends to represent a different "chapter" in our life. I recently attended a retirement celebration that brought a meaningful chapter in the life of a colleague to an end. This event resembled a funeral in several ways. Some of us were mourning the loss of being able to see this person on a day-to-day basis. There were many touching speeches given. One even referenced the comparison between résumé virtues and eulogy virtues as described in the book, The Road to Character, by David Brooks. Afterwards several people commented that it was like our colleague got to attend his own funeral.   

There are all different kinds of stories that can be told to represent our unique lives. They do not all sound like a fairy tale, but they all deserve to be told. Readers often have an interesting relationship with the last chapter of a book. Some people have enjoyed reading the book so much that they do not want the experience to be over. Others look forward to it with eager anticipation to see how the story ends. Some people even like to read the last chapter first. However, we do not get the opportunity to do that with the story of our lives because it has not been written yet; but, we do get to help write it. 

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

What if people could hear their own eulogy? Would this "ignite the life still present," and encourage people to help determine how the story of their life is told?


Join the conversation:

Photo of Morgan Meinel

Stephen, I love this post! Especially this: "What if people could hear their own eulogy? Would this "ignite the life still present," and encourage people to help determine how the story of their life is told?"

How poignant! Imagine if a group of friends gathered together and wrote each other's or their own (!) eulogy and shared them amongst one another. People so often minimize how remarkable they are because they fail to perceive the amazing qualities that lie within them. Right? We rarely see what others are capable of seeing. What a beautiful way to illuminate the good within us. I imagine in writing one's own eulogy, that individual would be offered the chance to reflect on their life and either find that they are perfectly satisfied or have the opportunity to make significant changes that would ultimately allow them to live a life without regret. 

Thanks again for this wonderful contribution! 

Photo of Stephen Yungbluth

Thanks Morgan!

In reflecting more on this challenge, I was reminded of the book by John Green, The Fault in Our Stars. I don’t want to post any spoilers, but I would highly recommend it (the film was pretty good too). I posted a comment about this story in relation to Rebecca Brown’s contribution, “Don't mean to dwell on this dying thing,” since she was talking about young people, but one of the most poignant parts of the story comes from the preparation of eulogies.

It occurs to me that the reason why so many people suggested how lucky my colleague was to have a retirement celebration comparable to attending his own funeral is that he can still anticipate other chapters in his life. It seems that the only people who are prepared to die are those who see it coming. Yet, death is inevitable and is coming for us all – we just don’t know when. How can we come to better acceptance of when “it is time?”

Photo of Morgan Meinel

Hi Stephen! Thanks for the book recommendation; I look forward to reading it! :)

You raise a vital question when you ask "How can we come to better acceptance of when "it is time?" Isn't that the golden question? I often sit at the bedsides of my patients and ask them that same question. These universal answers always arise: "Live your life the best you can without regret. Be  Happy. Don't work too hard. Love." If we can live a meaningful and joyful life, perhaps we can hold on to the hope that death will welcome us with peace, grace, and the fulfillment of living the life we wanted to.

Thank you so much for your contribution! All the Best :)