The story goes that Alfred Nobel, creator of dynamite and also benefactor of the Nobel Prize, had a lightbulb moment when a newspaper accidentally reported his death, writing in his obituary, ““Dr Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.”
For the very-much-alive scientist (whose brother had actually been the Mr Nobel to pass away), it was a huge wake-up call, reports LifeHack. It’s believe that this was the impetus for Nobel to set aside a huge chunk of his estate to establish the Nobel Foundation. Consequently, he is now remembered, not as the inventor of death, but for the Nobel Prizes, including the Peace Prize.
What will your obituary say? And more importantly, will you be proud of what the world has to say about you once you’re gone?
Writing in the Huffington Post, novelist and cancer survivor Katarina Cosgrove says life is too short not to write your own obituary. She says, “I’m a writer. I’ve written lots of stories over the years, real and imagined. But the process of writing my own obituary has proven to be the most profound narrative I’ve ever attempted. Writing your own obituary is life-changing (yes, it’s that big).”
There are three very good reasons to consider sitting down and penning a memorial version of your life story; focusing on where you came from, what made you the person you were most proud of; and what you have achieved (so far) in your life.
1. It reveals your true goals and dream
If you sat down and wrote “Lynette was the author of seven much-loved novels” but you have never set pen to paper to write that first draft, then you know you’re spending your days in the wrong way. So many of us struggle to stay on the path towards our dreams, getting sidelined by life, and this can make us unhappy. By writing down who you want to be 20 or 30 years from now, you’re actually committing to an action plan for the next period of your life.
Cosgrove says, “Writing my obituary illuminated my path and clarified where I want to be, in every sense.”
2. It reveals everything you have to be proud of
No one is ever going to start an obituary with “Karen was always late to meetings and never stopped talking”; instead they will say, “Karen was always engaged with life, enthusiastic and had boundless wisdom to share”. An obituary is short and sweet; it focuses on the strengths of a person and the highlights of their life. Why not take some time to remind yourself about all the good you bring into this world?
3. It helps you focus on what matters the most
Who in your life means the most to you? What fills you up with joy? When you read in an obituary that Bill loved his roses almost as much as he loved his children, the key there is “he loved”. Life is not all about kicking goals and ticking off marathons, it’s about being happy and making a mark in some way. Sitting down to write your obituary can help you clarity just what that means for you.
As an aside, there is one more great advantage to writing an obituary for yourself… It will be accurate! And, no doubt, cherished by those who loved you.