Our focus so often is directed toward our future on earth. We make lists, set goals, plan for retirement. That’s all good. But how often do we look back and examine closely the life we’ve lived — not with nostalgia or regret but with prayerful discernment to detect God’s presence, grasp his plans for us and, ultimately, be prepared to meet God in death?

Nov. 2 is All Souls’ Day, a feast during which we remember and pray for those who have died. It’s also a fitting time to examine our own life so as to be ready for our last breath.

As part of my job, I proofread obituaries submitted to the Sentinel. In some 300 words we get a truncated yet often poignant look at another’s life — her dedication to children, his love of flowers, how she built a business from scratch, her knack for impeccable pie crusts, how much he was loved.

A sagacious colleague once said that writing one’s own obituary is a powerful act. It’s a chance to see the scaffolding of our lives and consider what we’ve done and perhaps what we hope to do still. What a wise process to undertake as we approach All Souls’.

We might also apply elements of the Daily Examen to our life. Described by St. Ignatius of Loyola in his spiritual exercises, the examen is a set of introspective prompts that help us contemplate our day — where we came up short, where we felt God’s love. They help us understand our innermost selves and connect with the Holy Spirit.

We could use this technique to meditate upon our childhood, young adulthood and beyond. Where did we blow it? Where did we feel the tenderness of God envelop us? And how can these times help us understand God’s love for us, inform our days now and prepare us for our own inevitable death?