I read an article recently and it was titled “Why you need to write your obituary.”
The title intrigued me because as we all know, most people don’t get to write theirs because obituaries are normally written after the death of the person. But the author made a case for it and I agreed.
You see , most obituaries are basically a rehash of one’s academic qualifications, job experience and titles garnered over the years. They say nothing about who you are, your opinions, thoughts, fears, joys, sadness, beliefs, emotions, feelings etc.
The tributes which are included in the funeral booklet (for those that are old enough or fortunate enough to have one) are a reflection of the “you” the people knew and were acquainted with.
They don’t tell for example the emotions you felt at certain timea, how you made the choices and decisions to be the person that they are celebrating and eulogizing. They are not privy to the end results of your decisions. In short, they tell parts but not the whole of your story and no one can know your story more than you.
So am I saying we should be morbid and always have thoughts of death constantly in our minds, even though for most of us, death is hopefully a distant reality?
No. I guess what I am really advocating is the need for each one of us to write our memoirs. We need to pass down to the coming generations more than our wealth and houses, we need to pass down our stories, our history, our childhood experiences, the events that shaped us .
Our children and generations after us need to know the stock they are made off. We need to tell them who we are and who they are and are meant to be. We need to tell unbiased stories that they can go to when they are disheartened or are at their wits end. They need to know that their problems and circumstances are not unique to them and that they will overcome them just as we did ours.
I know most of us think memoirs are meant for the famous or rich, those who have made some strides in life and have led a more interesting life than ours. I am not telling us to aim for the bestsellers list, though some of us will get there. One thing I can assure us is that our stories will be interesting to those for whom it is written for we have something in common.
A lot of us are living with people that we really don’t know and vice versa. We don’t know what makes each other tick, why we behave the way we do, what has shaped our beliefs, what we have made of the experiences of our lives and our coping mechanisms. A lot of what we know about our blood relations and friends most times come from our interactions with their friends and colleagues and it should not be so. A lot of times it’s because we have assumptions, set beliefs and ideas of who our loved ones are and it shuts out who they are outside of the relationship they have with us.
I put up a post on mother’s day which says a mother and this includes a father, brother, relative, friend etc can be easily misunderstood and that it is until we walk in their shoes that we will understand their actions and motives. This is very true and I have seen this play out with me and my children who sometimes interprete my actions or corrections wrongly. I am reminded of a story I read about a boy who wished his father dead just because he felt the father was too harsh, too disciplined and all.
His father’s untimely death in the hands of robbers first filled him with elation that his main problem was out of the way until it dawned on him that that same father was responsible for his education, feeding, recreation etc. If the father had told him how he grew up and what made him seemingly harsh he would have had a better understanding of his father.
The benefits of writing our memoirs are many and they range from understanding ourselves, to creating a bond between us and our loved ones, to being at peace with our past, to providing a legacy for us and our children, to tracking common traits, hereditary diseases, genetic disorders etc. as we will see a pattern form when we hear about our progenitors.
Please write your obituary, fill all the gaps that the funeral booklet will gloss over and leave a lasting legacy to your children and loved ones.