I die at age 94—of old age—on my ranch in Texas alone, discovered slumped over in my recliner watching reruns of General Hospital, surrounded by lots of cats and dogs, possibly several days/weeks after my death. Or at least that’s what I wrote in my obituary. It’s poetic, don’t you think? (You don’t have to answer yes.)
According to The New York Times, the obituary is on the way out. Legacy.com (and my creative writing teacher) wants to change that by giving you the opportunity to write your own. I mean, who wouldn’t want to sit down and think about dying? All the things you may or may not have ever accomplished… not at all stressful.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always wanted to pull a Tom Sawyer and attend my own funeral. I know, I know, that’s terrible to think about. Maybe I’m just sick and twisted. Honestly, that’s what I thought about my professor when she addressed a room of 20-year-olds and told us to write our own obit. I was beyond weirded-out. “I’m 20. I’m never going to die. I’m immortal.” Blah-blah-young people talk.
Then I sat down. Not all obituaries say how the person was found dead, but mine does. I wanted to freak out my professor—which I suppose actually says a lot about my character. The more I wrote, the greater a person I became. I had a foundation and this successful film career and lots of husbands who gave me lots of jewels. And after my superb career of changing lives—and changing faces (the old me loves plastic surgery)—I settled down on the ranch in Texas (Forever) like I’ve always wanted. And rescued the dogs and cats and horses I dreamed about as a child in the city. I’ve never been to Texas, haven’t ever been to the south actually. But I love Friday Night Lights and Dallas and that’s where my happy ending takes place.
So what if I never accomplish all of that stuff? Maybe I don’t live to be 94, maybe I surpass it. In the end, it doesn’t really matter. First off, most people reading your obituary have no idea who you were—which is a strange thought in its own right. Secondly, the ones who know you will probably read all of your embellishments and lies or maybe even truths with fondness. Because I know, when my sister/college-paper-editor read a copy of my obituary she laughed and said something like “You would.”
Writing your own obituary can be the new inside joke or bucket list. Sure, you can write the straightforward truth or you could make yourself a superhero. The greatest part about writing your own obituary is the death part. No one can get mad at a dead guy for embellishing a little. Also, no one says you actually have to publish whatever you write. Write it for yourself and hide it in a box somewhere—like a time capsule. Then, read it on your deathbed or leave it for your grandkids to find when they’re reminiscing some day. It’s like in 7th grade when you had to write a letter to yourself the high school senior about all of your high school hopes and dreams. (Fun fact: I was going to Yale and becoming a vet.)
Sure, maybe you have no control over how you die, but you have a lot of control over the legacy you leave either by writing it or living it. So I say: LET FREEDOM REIGN! Aspire to make your best life come true by writing it in your obituary. Just take five minutes and sit down and try it out. And then let me know what you come up with—or let the world wait and read.
Featured Image via Forbes.com