A Practical Guide to Death and Dying
- Published: Monday, 24 September 2018 17:25
John White – USA
[A Practical Guide to Death and Dying was originally published by QUESTbooks in 1980. This particular version was previously published in the Theosophical Digest, y1992 v4 i2-p90.]
How Will You Be Remembered? — Writing Your Own Obituary.
An obituary is an objective statement of fact. It is both a death notice and a summary of the person’s life. You are now going to write your own obituary, stating the facts of your life as they are to date and — using your imagination — as you’d like them to be for the rest of your life or, perhaps, as you’re afraid they’ll be. Obituaries are usually not very long, so this isn’t a major writing assignment. But it is a major assignment in terms of life assessment— your values, your relations with other people, your accomplishments, success as a provider, spouse, parent, friend, and citizen.
Right now is a good time to take stock of your life. Have you been a “friend to man”? How will your spouse remember you? Your neighbors? Your work associates? Who will eulogize you, and what will be said, and will it be sincere? If you have children, what character development and values have they learned from you, consciously through your training or non-consciously through imitating your example? If you are in some kind of supervisory position in business, education, or the military, how will those under you regard your passing? In short, who will miss you and what will be the effect of your life on the world?
If death seems fearful because your life will have been meaningless, whose fault is that? Isn’t it clear that the meaning of your life is entirely in your control? It grows out of your values, your character, your relations with others, your accomplishments, your sacrifices, and your gifts of love, honesty, tolerance, sympathy, understanding, helpfulness, courage, fairness, loyalty, courtesy, cheerfulness. These are not commodities to be bought and sold. They are yours, entirely within your control. They are the basis of meaning in your life. Without them, human existence is cruel and bleak, no matter how wealthy or famous or powerful you might be. Consider this as you write your own obituary. When you have finished, think deeply upon this:
“My death will be reported like this someday. Will my life have been worthwhile?”
If your obituary leaves you feeling unsatisfied, remorseful, angry, disappointed — anything less than serene and tranquil — then think deeply upon this: It is within my power to change it by changing my life.Don’t mistake a change in your outward circumstances, however, for the kind of change I’m talking about here. Perhaps part of your fear of dying involves guilt over a wrong you committed — say, an insult or lie. If so, you should correct it and clear your conscience. This is not only morally right, it is also in your own best interest because it will relieve you of some of the death-fear you harbor. As Dr. Bernie Siegel, author of Love, Medicine and Miracles,says, “Don’t wait until you’re going to die to start living.”