Write Your Own Obituary
An exercise to live the way you want to be remembered
In this activity, you will craft your own obituary––in advance. When we connect with the idea that life is not limitless, we realize that we need to make the most out of our time.
This exercise will help you live your life the way you want to be remembered.
You can also use the obituary exercise to uncover a team purpose or brand purpose.
Writing your own obituary is a very straightforward exercise.
This activity is about reconnecting with what really matters to us. Usually, when people get closer to their death, they begin to worry about what they didn’t achieve and what they do with the time that’s left.
The purpose of this obituary exercise is to uncover what’s really important to you––hopefully, long before your end. And, to use it as a guiding principle for your life.
Live the way you want to be remembered. Don’t let others choose the words of your obituary. Let your acts and legacy pen it instead.
- Start by writing your name the way you’d like it to look on your tombstone.
- In one line, how did you make the world a better place? Be concise. The more focused, the more honest you’ll be with yourself.
- Write down how people will remember you. Avoid pompous language. Stick to the tone and words that regular people would use — especially those who know you well. The why is essential (once again, you don’t need the full laundry list).
- This part requires more introspection. Look yourself into the mirror and answer this unfiltered: “who was the real you?” Not your masks or costumes, not your job or titles or roles. What was your essence? What made you unique?
- Saying ‘yes’ is easy. What we say ‘no’ to defines who we really are. Which was in your case? What are the ‘temptations,’ distractions, or possibilities that you said ‘no’ to because they would derail you from achieving your goals?
- Who will miss you the most? This seems easy, but it’s not. The answer is not about what you wish, but trying to understand who will really miss. A lot of people will for sure. But who were those people to whom you meant something special? Once again, avoid judging yourself. Being honest is what makes this exercise meaningful.
- Now it’s time to be creative. The previous steps provided the background; now it’s time to bring it your epitaph to life. Write down in one or two paragraphs the words that you would love someone to say about you once you departed. This is the most critical part of the exercise. Connect with your true essence, not your vanity.
Go ahead and craft yours!
Share your thoughts. What did you learn about yourself by doing this exercise? How would you define your relationship with death?
This exercise requires finding a delicate balance.
If you are coaching the exercise, don’t make it too funny either too serious.
The same applies if you are doing this exercise on your own. We need to accept that our lives will come to an end at some point. Writing one’s obituary can be uncomfortable. The goal is not to feel bad but to recover joy––focus on living a life worth dying for.