Final words

Posted on February 12, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

At 21 I was enrolled in a “Death and Dying” class, part of my instruction for studies in the field of Gerontology. I was given an assignment that had a huge impact on me; write my obituary. There were no guidelines, no qualifications – just a ‘practice’ of sorts. How was I to be graded on my ‘life story’ anyway? How do you summarize “THIS IS WHO I AM” in 2 short paragraphs? So, where to begin? I searched through the local papers, soaking in the details of local strangers’ stories as published for all to read. It struck me….this written statement to the public becomes your formal farewell to the living. What did I find? Credentials. Accilades. Accomplishments. Offspring. That’s all well, that’s fabulous….someone that spent their time championing a cause should certainly have their due admiration. But is that what I am? At 21, was I a “title” like, housewife, CEO, actuary? Was I but a summary of my “what I did for a living?” Not by a long shot, not even at the teeny tiny, naïve age of 21. I wrote that obituary to the best of my ability then, and I marvel at how different that story is today, some 17 years later. How will it read 17 years from now?

So, I decided that final piece of literature should reflect the Holly at 21. My life to that point, what I cherished and enjoyed. Maybe it wasn’t enough that I stated my position about being serious about my studies and cultivating strong relationships with my peers that would last well into later adulthood…..I felt it necessary to relate to others that I also make a mean pot of taco soup. My photo was included, as my research into others’ obituaries lead me to the realization that I was more touched by those that had a face to the content. But I wanted it to be fun. I think I’m fun, shouldn’t my last words be? I wanted those that knew me personally to get a smile out of reading it, and those that didn’t know me – to get a smile out of reading it.

It was a good practice for me, it has stuck with me. What would your obituary say about you? Are you leading the life you want? Reflect upon it, and consider the practice of drafting your obituary. I’d love to read it – send it to me at In the meantime, go live life to its fullest!


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