Another writing exercise: If you were to write your own obituary, how would you want it to read?
Obviously I want to be remembered. Who doesn’t? I have said on here before that I want to be remembered for something. Here’s a list of stuff that wouldn’t hurt me or sound overly pompous.
- An excellent father
- A compassionate husband
- A thoughtful, funny writer
- A lifelong friend
- He died fulfilled
- He loved Gold Beach, Oregon
- His mind was sharp until the end
- He died happy, doing what he loved
- He will be remembered long afterward
They obviously don’t really tell your life story in an obituary. They toss around dates and places, and relations; maybe a career move or two, and a hobby. But it doesn’t capture a person’s essence. I was reading Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead recently and it struck me that it’s difficult, even for ME, to truly know myself without bias, and maybe discover the hard, hard truth that is the core of life: The lies, the hidden things, the depth of passion, the regrets. None of that is captured in an obituary. But while I’m alive I’ll do my best to struggle toward honesty for myself, and for my friends.
The Irish may have it right, celebrating a person’s life with a wake, with the body laid right there in the living room. If nothing else, it gives a person a chance to become blind drunk to distract a mourner from their sorrow, and to distract the less-mournful from their embarrassment.
Who will know what will actually be said when I die? I hope my place in the world is found, and that my life leaves an imprint (in a good way) on the hearts and minds of others. This is a depressing topic, but like most others, it’s fun, at least, to speculate and let my mind ramble through the graveyard.