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Why You Need to Write Your Own Obituary

Yes! We’re going to be talking about death today (I am a Scorpio with Pluto, the god of the underworld, as one of my ruling planets. So, go figure…). Don’t worry! I promise it’s not going to be a really gloomy post. I want to help you write your own guide to a mindful living.

A while ago, a funny picture showed up on my FB feed. It was my friend’s picture with her name, a future year of when her time is up, and cause of death engraved on a grave stone. She was using an app that generated this kind of thing. She is still alive and kicking. What’s funny was the cause of death listed: “Die from Laughter.” Well, out of all the possible scenarios, I think that is the best way to go.

We all are going to die someday. We don’t have control on when, where or how it’s going to happen. What we can control is how we want to be remembered afterwards.

Why writing your own obituary helps you to create a guide for a mindful living

In his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey proposes that to be successful we need to begin with the end in mind.

If you want to build your dream house, you start with picturing how the house is going to look like. Then, you draw a blueprint and build it. Each process sets up the foundation for the success of the next phase.

In life, our end is death. There is no escaping it.

People fear death because we don’t know what is going to happen after death. There are many books that have tried to answer the question if there is life after death. Stories about people who have gone to heaven and then come back are abounding.

The Christians believe in Heaven and Hell. The Buddhists/Hindus believe in reincarnation. They believe that life is a continuous cycle of death and rebirth until you achieve a state of enlightenment. Some believe that we simply cease to exist once we die.

Whatever we believe about what happen after death, it will be our own personal journey when the time comes.

So, what can we do to NOT fear death?

I believe writing our own obituary can help us beat the fear of death. It won’t answer the question if there is life after death or not. But, it will help guide us on how to live a meaningful life.

Imagine your own funeral. Will there be lots of friends and family there? What would the people say about you? What will they write on your obituary in the newspaper?

Now, imagine that you are the one writing the obituary to be published. What will YOU say about how well you live your life? What will be your proudest accomplishments? Have you loved well? Have you been generous to the people around you with the time, gifts and talents that God gives you while you are on this earth?

Or…

Have you strained your relationship with your spouse and children by working till late at nights at the office? Have you been living in the fast lane chasing the biggest house, the trendiest car, or the next high from drug, sex, or alcohol?

I have done this exercise myself. (They say only recommend things that you’ve tried and believe in, right?!)

Here is what I have learned from writing my own obituary:

1. I know what I want them to do with my body after I die.

I hope I get to live (at least) to my 80s. Should I die young, they can explore every inch of it and take any viable organs and give them to people who need them.

As for the rest of the body, they can burn it.

"Cremation: My last chance for a smoking hot body" Quote

My husband (or next of kin) is not going to have my ashes in an urn and put it somewhere in the house. (I think that is just creepy!)

Should I get married to a financially well off guy, no matter how much he loves me, he will not get to turn my ashes into a diamond either. I kid you not! There are companies that offer services to turn their loved one’s ashes into a diamond. (I think that is just SUPER creepy!!)

I will have him go hike up a mountain or go by a waterfall and spread my ashes there. Let the wind blows them into the sky.

If they should bury something, let it be my faults and shortcomings.

 

2.  I get clear on my view about death.

I believe in God. My relationship with Him is the most important relationship in my life. He is the source of my life. As such, I believe that death is a homecoming to our eternal home on Heaven.

Welcome home My child; My son. Your work on earth has been well done.

As I face trials in this life, He is always by my side (even when my faith takes a major beating and I can’t feel Him near). When fear grips me as I walk through the valleys of death, He will be my guide.

Should I get the chance to reach old age and complain about my failing physical body, I will remember this quote by Max Lucado from his book Traveling Light.

“These bodies are weak. They began decaying the minute we began breathing. And according to God, that’s part of the plan. Every wrinkle and every needle takes us one step closer to the last step when Jesus will change our bodies into forever bodies. No pain. No depression. No sickness.” – Max Lucado

Is Heaven real? I guess I’ll find out when it’s my time to go.

Even if it’s not, I get to live with the expectancy that something wonderful is about to happen. I think that’s so much better that believing that we’re just going to disappear into thin air when we die.

3. I get crystal clear about my values in life.

Getting clear on your values help you determine what activities you will (and will not) do in life.

I want to be remembered for being a loving person to the people around me. Love is all that matter in the end. So, I get to work on being more patient (a.k.a. not getting irritated easily, which I am prone to, when things don’t go my way).

No matter how much material possession we accumulate in life, we don’t get to take any of it. So, I want to focus more on life experiences that contribute to my growth and happiness rather than the endless chase of material stuffs. I want to travel, learn new languages, try new activities and taste new foods. These are the reasons I am adopting minimalism.

I want to have a godly marriage. So, I am using my season of singleness to learn how to serve and relate to others by playing with babies at church on Sunday mornings.

I am past of the “normal” age for a girl to get married. But, that doesn’t mean I am desperate for any man’s love or attention. So, I am not going to go to night clubs on the weekends to score dates and the likes. I believe in the right time God will bring him into my life.

With this sense of clarity about life and death, I don’t fear death. I still don’t know what happens to us after we die. But, I get some sort of a blueprint on how to live my life meaningfully.

I will not fear death because I know that God is guiding me as I walk through the valleys of death.

If I live each day purposely and meaningfully, then I will have no regrets when death comes knocking at my door.

So, what is the secret guide to living mindfully?

You get to create it yourself.

What do you want your life to be about? How do you want to express yourself to the world? What will make you happy?

“Choose to fill this day with your very own special expression of what it means to be alive. Your happiness comes not from what you may seek to take away from life but from what you give, what you create and what you share.” – Source Unknown

By writing your own obituary, you are actually crafting your life story.

What are you writing in your book of life?

 

♥♥♥

Comments

  1. Awesome post! Have you ever watched the movie “The Last Word”? It’s about a woman who hires someone to write her obituary. She wants to be a part of the obituary-writing journey. Very good movie, and very relevant to your post. Highly recommend watching it if you haven’t already! Love your blog, by the way! 💞

    • Thanks, Zoey! No, I haven’t watched “The Last Word.” I’ll put it on my list. I didn’t realize there is also an obituary-writing movement. I know there are the “Pay It Forward” (because I watched the movie) and “The Life Manifesto” project (that inspired my last post). I guess I just jumped into the bandwagon with this one without realizing it. 😉

  2. One of my college roommates took a class called Death & Dying (we were psych majors so it was really about learning to help others grieve) but they had to write their own obituaries. At first, she was so horrified by the idea, thought it was stupid and all that. But at the end, she actually did come away with a lot of the things you wrote about! It’s really a very powerful exercise!

  3. As someone who is terrified of death, this is a great idea. I have often wondered about writing letters to family members to be opened after I am gone. I just haven’t worked up the courage. Plus my family would think I am weird. Thank you for making this great post.

  4. Interesting perspective! I think this exercise definitely helps to put our values in perspective and it doesn’t hurt to revisit this practice once a year to realign and/or readjust our path.

  5. This is such a powerful exercise and I think it’s a really great idea. I’ve talked a lot with my husband about what I want (I feel the same way about cremation – please don’t keep me in an urn or turn me into a diamond…. noooooo! lol) but putting it down on paper is probably a great idea. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Hi. I’m I really a religious or spiritual person. I believe in God br don’t go to church. I was instructed by the title of your post and decided to take a read. I’m glad I did.
    It is a very interesting take on obituaries and I have to say that I liked it very much. I like the idea of living your life in a way that will shape what you “would” say if you wrote your own. Thank you for posting.

    • Thank you for reading Yesenia and I am glad you stumble upon the post. Being religious (or spiritual) is not about going to a church or a temple. It’s about how we live our life and share the love to the people around us.

  7. Interesting read indeed, as a grieving mom, I am not sure what to say. This post is really interesting and I’m coming back often to check out more of your interesting piece.

  8. What an interesting idea, Herlina. What a great way to begin to live intentionally, to start with the end in mind, to get really clear about where and how to invest your time…and even more importantly, where not to. People talk about a five year plan, or a 10-year plan. This is a great way to think about a lifelong plan. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks for reading, Tanya. Hmm… come to think of it, I don’t have my 5-year plan or 10-year plan set up yet. Now I know what my end goal is, it’ll be much easier to do it. Better get working on those…

  9. I think you are onto something here. As we don’t really live, until we think of dying. I have gone through an episode of severe depression. And the finality hit me. If I were dead… I could not taste my fav meal again. Or feel the sun on my face. Or love. Or any of the pleasures there are in life. And so, once I started thinking about death… was the day I decided to live. Slippery slope. Great article though. Thank you.

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