Write your own obituary
Thanks to an obituary in The Globe and Mail, I think this is a great idea. Charles (Charlie/Chuck) Robert Butler, an English teacher, knew he had limited time. His friend suggested that while he liked to write perhaps he should write his own obituary. He not only wrote it, but chose a charming picture to go with it. His obituary ended up in my opinion the most interesting and humorous I have ever read. Don’t get me wrong, I am not one to read obituaries. I find the reminder of my mortality a bit too close. However my husband was reading the Globe and Mail, as he was about to pass over the obituaries, one caught his eye. It began “Apparently I died…”. In this little tribute to himself, Charles said “The ‘gift’ of cancer for me has been the opportunity in the past few years to live each day with a heightened sense of what I’ve called the ‘joyful wonder’ of living.”
When my mother died, writing the obituary was left to me. Even though I think she was an interesting, dynamic, wise alcoholic, my mind went completely blank when asked what I would like her obituary to say. My husband said it was the funniest thing to see my eyes literally glaze over and stare off for the longest time. Finally he broke the silence and started describing my mother.
Obituaries are boring. An obituary should be a testament to the strengths and weaknesses of the person that has walked the planet before us and should impart some wisdom and gratitude. Too many are dry litanies of how long the person lived and who outlived them. If I’m going to read an obituary I want to know who this person was – really, what they died from, what their values were, if they were a real shit disturber, or a quiet wall flower. I want to know did they really live, or did they play it safe, from their own point of view.
I think we should all write our own obituary every few years. Then we could really see our progress in life, see where we have come from and where we still want to go. And maybe through this exercise we may even gain a “heightened sense” of our lives as Charles put it, and live more from a place of gratitude and joy.
What would your obituary say?