she was the greatest person ever


Lily

I often read obituaries.

You may think it morbid but to me, it is a way of finding out what a person was like through the eyes and minds of those left behind. I often wondered how true their words were and how much of it was edited so as to be polite.  And nice. People like to be nice.  And polite. They like that too.  Or seen to be at least!

It seems like death is everywhere at the moment; quite like the quiet winter we are currently going through in London.  So plenty of obituaries to read, to find out, to discover but more importantly to reflect.  I may not care too much about being polite, or nice for that matter, but I do care about reflection.  It’s an important past-time for me, like daydreaming. But that too is reflection.

So in my reflection I was thinking wouldn’t it be lovely if:

a. I could hear all the words, hopefully nice and polite ones about me, like now whilst I’m alive? And receive the flowers too? (I like long stemmed roses, preferably in burnt orange)

b. If there are no nice and polite words to say about me, what can I do to ensure that (a) happens or better yet….

c. What if, right now, I were to put pen to paper or fingers to a keyboard and write my OWN obituary (to be published in 2060) and how would that work? What would I say? What can I say?!

Self-obituaries are catching on I believe.  Soon it will be the norm.  We can write them like we write wills, legacies and who we would leave our pension funds with in the event of our death etc.; seal them in a little brown envelope (stick some cello tape on it if the sticky bit isn’t as sticky as it should be) and keep it somewhere accessible (not in a safe or in some secret location that no one will ever find because then the whole exercise of writing your obituary would be frankly, pointless and kind of dumb).  Then write on the little brown envelope:  ONLY TO BE OPENED WHEN I HAVE KICKED THE BUCKET. 

Yes I like the idea.  There is a glimmer of light in the shape of the self-obituary. I think writing one’s own obituary is a healthy phenomenon as it gives people the chance to say things they’ve always wanted to.

Websites like ObitKit.com tell us: ‘A baby boomer turns 65 every 12 seconds, a good time to start thinking about how we will leave this life, ideally just as we lived it: with personality, panache and style.’ This advice to put the ‘fun’ in ‘funeral’ gives people the chance to tell their own life story. But why wait until 80? Do it now.  While your grey matter is still functioning as it should, effectively.

Life coach and author Carole Ann Rice said: ‘Writing your own obituary can be a great reality check and a way to ask yourself that big life question – why am I here and what do I want to be able to say (and not say) about my life at the end? ‘It can provide an incentive for people to not waste valuable time. For example, staying in a job they hate or a relationship that’s not working.’

1906-obituaries

Talking about death is now seen less of a taboo.  I have no problems talking about mine.  And many others too from the blogs I’ve seen even by young people who are dying.  I think there’s something so profound in being able to talk about death openly, to accept the inevitable.  And I think by being open one can actually help others too.

In 2011, newspaper partners of US site Legacy.com published many self-written obituaries including this self-penned obit from one Charlie Johnson in the Houston Chronicle: ‘Hi, my name is Charlie Johnson and I’m an alcoholic. I met the love of my life, Cindy, on August 17, 1984, and we’ve been together, and on the same page, ever since. She’ll probably try to be strong and say she’s fine, but she’s not. She was the feeler to my thinker personality trait and she’ll need a lot of support to get through this.’

See how being open can help others?  He was telling the world before it was too late and he couldn’t how his love of his life, Cindy, will need others to continue living.  He was passing on a crucial message.

Ann Wroe, an obituaries editor at The Economist magazine, said: ‘A good obituary should make you feel you know the person, share their passions and live for a while inside their heads. This is much more important than tracking their lives in chronological detail.’

So with self-written obituary etiquette from ‘How to write an obituary’ sites like ObituaryGuide.com telling us to be accurate, lively and memorable, what would YOURS say?

I’m fairly certain that it would NOT say the following:

“What everybody loved most about her was how she ate lunch at her desk. Every day.”

Or:

“She didn’t have any real friends, but she had 887 Facebook friends, and she dealt with every email in her inbox every night.”

Or:

“But she will live on, not in our hearts or memories, because we barely knew her but in her PowerPoint slides, her accurately written minutes which were always meticulously prepared.”

This is because a tribute to yourself is NOT a C.V.

Your C.V. disappears as soon as your heart stops beating.

A tribute to self on the other hand, your obit, describes your inner essence and only those who are really close to you would know a little of.  Mostly however, your inner essence will only be known to you — your passions, your joys, the things that made your heart beat fast, your first kiss, your best kiss, how you’ve loved or failed to love or couldn’t love no matter how hard you tried, how you’ve angered and hurt others and how others have angered and hurt you, the things and people you should have let go of years ago but didn’t know how or where to begin, your many fears at 3am (and 4am and 5am, 6am, 9am, 10am, 12pm…), your million little senseless and sensible moral judgements about others and yourself, your outdated but still-hard-to-let-go-off beliefs, your ‘truths’, your thousand hopes and your many lived (unlived) dreams along with the wonderful unexpected surprises and those awfully crushing disappointments that you never thought you’d ever recover from (and you were right).  ALL of the many, MANY things that make up this thing, called LIFE.

So if you do decide to write your own obituary, I hope it’s a meaningful experience for you and a helpful one.

I hope too that the exercise will show you the ways you are currently living your life and the ways in which you would like to or hope to and that the finished product is something you can then read with pride and satisfaction with a pinch of regret thrown in for good measure (as life is not perfect or easy nor was it meant to be).

Be kind to yourselves.

125038_eulogies_gandhi_slide

Jawaharlal Nehru’s eulogy to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Pacifist leader Gandhi — a crucial figure in the Indian independence movement — was assassinated at a prayer meeting in 1948. The peacekeeper had survived five previous unsuccessful attempts on his life. Despite the eventual violent aftermath following his death, Gandhi’s successor Jawaharlal Nehru — India’s first Prime Minister — addressed the nation by radio with his emotional eulogy, urging citizens to remain faithful to the leader’s ideals.

“The first thing to remember no wish that no one of us dare misbehave because we’re angry. We have to behave like strong and determined people, determined to face all the perils that surround us, determined to carry out the mandate that our great teacher and our great leader had given us, remembering always that if, as I believe, his sprit looks upon us and sees u, nothing would displease his soul so much as to see that we have indulged in any small behaviour or any violence.

So we must not do that. But that does not mean that we should be weak, but rather that we should in strength and in unity face all the troubles and difficulties and conflicts must be ended in the face of this great disaster. A great disaster is a symbol to us to remember all the big things of life and forget the small things, of which we have thought too much.”

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Published by

justme

I'm a woman living in London and this blog captures what lands within my sight and connects with my psyche. I expect it to evolve naturally. It is a place I shall visit from time to time and where things that I am touched by deeply will find a soft place to land. As a psychotherapist and a continuing student, most of the articles you shall find here will somehow, in some way, be related to therapy and well-being. I love comments, so feel free to add yours, whenever and however. I wish you well.

62 thoughts on “she was the greatest person ever”

  1. Honestly I have thought about death but not about an eulogy or self written obituary. I just think that it may all end anyday and what have I done? achieved? Will moping over a lost opportunity to love ,be loved or marry matter? Shouldnt I instead go out and do something i enjoy?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think none of that would matter apart from how well you’ve loved. And if there is something you feel you are capable and have the strength in doing then I would like to encourage you try. Thanks for your comment much appreciated as you know 😃

      Liked by 1 person

      1. And in the meantime you can put all that love that you have and know you’re capable of giving, into yourself. Relationships can be so complicated but what is yours will be, no matter what. If someone is not reciprocating or stuck in their own fears then hold out for the one who will meet you where you need to be met. Anything less isn’t worth it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I can relate to that. Often those who have open and generous hearts love many but neglect themselves. Trust me, when you begin to focus on you and in looking after yourself and your heart ♥ things change, and change for the better.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’d like to share this with you:

        Sometimes people walk away from love because it is so beautiful that it terrifies them. Sometimes they leave because the connection shines a bright light on their dark places and they are not ready to work them through. Sometimes they run away because they are not developmentally prepared to merge with another- they have more individuation work to do first. Sometimes they take off because love is not a priority in their lives- they have another path and purpose to walk first. Sometimes they end it because they prefer a relationship that is more practical than conscious, one that does not threaten the ways that they organize reality. Because so many of us carry shame, we have a tendency to personalize love’s leavings, triggered by the rejection and feelings of abandonment. But this is not always true. Sometimes it has nothing to do with us. Sometimes the one who leaves is just not ready to hold it safe. Sometimes they know something we don’t- they know their limits at that moment in time. Real love is no easy path- readiness is everything. May we grieve loss without personalizing it. May we learn to love ourselves in the absence of the lover.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Comment received from Chris, Streetlife, and hour Ago:

    I just read your blog and I was intrigued about this ‘write your own obituary’. I have occasionally wondered what people will say in their eulogy about me and if they even give a eulogy. So it would be nice to help others to see me as I saw myself.
    I’ll look out for your blogs in future…. how do I ‘follow’ them?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post. My family does not know me or see me as my friends do. I would not want them writing my obituary. 🙂 And my friends may not be around or be involved. Yes…you have convinced me…I think I will do it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I woke up this morning, grabbed my coffee and found this post in my feed. I just wrote my sisters obit last week. So it hit me hard.
    I wrote my obit years ago in a journal which I can’t find now. I was just saying I need to write my obit again. I am a reader of obits as well and I find some of them very endearing. Thanks for sharing I’m going to hold on to this post for a while.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Damita, firstly I’m so very sorry about your loss. It must all be so very raw at the moment. And that makes your comment even more cherished and treasured by me. Thank you for getting in touch and for sharing so openly your own personal experiences. The main reason I wrote that post was because I was thinking of re-writing my own obit and sometimes it can be a useful exercise as when you begin to write, you ‘see’ yourself in different ways. I wish you much peace, much strength. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on arcade # 1775 and commented:
    i’d still write ‘you were an amazing person but sometimes you’re so ducking annoying’ on the obit for the lulz. idgaf

    thursday! you know what that means…

    it’s time to get paid

    Like

  6. I know I’ll be remembered for occasionally caustic sarcasm, realism a wide reaching sense of humor and frequently dark moodiness. But I’d like to be remembered for caring deeply for my friends and hoping for the best for people. I hope to be remembered as an encourager who was willing to stand aside and hold doors open for other people first. I hope to be remembered not just for the truths I believed, but for the love that motivated me to either keep it to my self, or speak it only after I figured out how to cushion it with loving words, helpful actions, and other expressions of grace. Right now I’m not very good at that restraint, but I’d like to find it. And it’s not me but the God I believe in who motivates these desires. ~I John 4:4-19. So maybe my epitaph should read: “He wished he was more like Jesus.”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I used to proofread obituaries when I worked for a newspaper. The obits about children were always the hardest to do. But learning about everyones lives was very interesting and uplifting.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think this is the perfect exercise for those who worry about how their family members will react once they’ve past. It must be a worry of people, especially those in a relationship where they feel they are the stronger emotionally, of what their partner/families will do after they pass and is a way for them to reach out to offer that last hand of support.

    Lovely idea.

    Liked by 1 person

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