What? An obituary for yourself? You must be out of your mind.
What’s gotten into you?
These would be the reactions if I asked people around me to write their own obituaries.
A few days ago, this thought came to my mind.
I was trying to write an obituary for my mother who left us a year ago. As I kept thinking about her, I discovered it was not possible to write about her in the space of a thousand words.
Even a billion words, perhaps, won’t do justice to the lady who gave birth to me, raised me, guided me, helped me build my character, and made me ready to tread the paths of life.
However, while thinking of her, it suddenly occurred to me whether I could write my own obituary before I died.
The thought opened up an inner eye inside me; I could see myself as a dead person from a writer’s point of view.
Yes, of course, I can write my own obituary, which would be a reflection of how I want to be remembered when I die. How would the people that I leave behind value me in my absence?
I would request you not to deny that you don’t want to be remembered; every human wants to be remembered.
As I thought about it more, I could feel a picture about me taking a clear shape. I could revisit my aspirations, dreams, contributions to society, to my family, to my fellow mates, and co-workers. Although I didn’t write my obituary, the image of how I would like to be remembered was quite an impressive one.
If I were to be remembered as I wanted to, I discovered that I would have to acquire that coveted image during my lifetime. So, in order to be remembered in the manner that I love, I would have to prepare myself for achieving it.
A world without us
Imagine, on a fine morning you wake up and see that a newspaper has written a tribute to you as a dead person. You would be in a state of shock. That’s very normal. But no matter how taken aback you are, won’t you be curious to see what they have written about you?
Of course, you would be. I would definitely want to know what the world has written about me in my absence.
Most of us are never ready for death; we always think that we’ll live forever. But what if we can really see us in the absence of ourselves?
How would the world remember my life and my contribution to society? Have I really contributed anything that people would remember and, perhaps, be cited as an example? What legacy would I leave to the people that I worked with? My words or my behaviour must have had an impact on other people. How have they evaluated me in my lifetime and what have they not told me?
I believe that writing one’s own obituary creates an opportunity to tell one’s life story to the world, which, I think, many of us crave to do. It’s also an opportunity to broadcast my beliefs, faith, and perception to the masses who I thought were not thinking of me, but in reality, they were.
Since mortality is quite scary to most of us, we tend not to think about it. However, writing an obituary of your own could start the process of acceptance about death
Facing the inevitable
Since mortality is quite scary to most of us, we tend not to think about it.
However, writing an obituary for yourself could start the process of acceptance about death -- the thought that, one day, you will also have to perish away from this precious life.
And that thought could make you a better person than what you are today.
It’s not only about becoming a better human, but also acquiring a sense of direction regarding the lifespan that is left for me.
Well, if I died today, would I die happy? What did I do to become a satisfied person during my lifetime?
Are we happy with the legacy that we’ve been creating? For example, if you imagine the life of a political leader, what would you think of? First and foremost, you’d think of his or her contribution to the country and the people.
Now if you ask him or her to write his or her own obituary, what would he or she write? Interesting, eh?
An obituary for yourself may also help you find out what has been missing from your life and what you need to do in order for your obituary to be “complete.”
Yes, writing an obituary, to me, is like a soul-search, a revisit of my being.
When I complete writing my own obituary, I would expect that other people would also write in the same way.
And that thought would lead to living my life from other people’s points of views.
I believe it’s a very meaningful idea to write our own obituaries. No matter how crazy you may think it is, I’m going to write one for myself.
Ekram Kabir is a story-teller and a columnist.