Sliding Otter News January 17,2011

Perhaps It Is Time to Write Your Own Obituary

Often the search proves more profitable than the goal
~ E.L. Konigsburg

radio dish NASA

NASA Radio Dish


Writing your own obituary sounds morbid doesn’t it? I thought so too when I first heard the idea. So why talk about it now? Many of us live our lives without realizing where we have been or where we are headed. Eckhart Tolle suggests living in the moment. The past is over and the future is not yet here. But it is also sensible to pay attention to the context of today.

Once you die and your obituary is written, you can’t do much about its contents. Other than your vital data, what would your obituary contain if it were published today? You might find a list of your jobs, hobbies, interests and contributions to society.

How would you feel about your obituary if you were around to read it? Have you accomplished what you wanted to in your life? How close have you come to achieving your childhood dreams? Most of us encountered detours along the way and have found our paths heading in new directions. We can mourn our failure to reach our original goals or accept our current state as a continuing challenge. Sometimes we find our new path more satisfying than the one we originally chose to follow.

You could write your obituary now as if you had just died. If you like what you wrote, congratulations. What if you are not satisfied with how it reads? With any luck, you will wake up tomorrow and have a chance to add to it and change your legacy.

Remember the movie The Bucket List? If you knew you had only a limited time to live, what adventures would you pursue? Perhaps you can think of a person whose life you would like to improve. Maybe you would like to thank someone for a favor they did for you or look up someone whose friendship you would like to renew. All of us do have a limited time to live, we just don’t know how long that is. While we are still breathing, opportunities remain.

If you were to write an honest obituary, you might include your failings, ways you have hurt others or ways you have hurt yourself. What can you do about it? You might choose to leave your “honest obituary” the way it is and leave well enough alone. You could also correct what you don’t like about how you have lived your life. You might take more responsibility for how you live. You can apologize for hurting someone and try to make up for it. Perhaps you will start treating yourself better.

Life Lab Lessons


  • Write your obituary as it would look today.
  • See what is missing.
  • Do what you can do to change it in the time you have left.
  • Look honestly at your failings and harm you have caused.
  • Do what you can to make up for what you don’t like in your life.