Writing your own obituary ahead of time (hmmm, like there’s any other way?) is not for the faint of heart. Which I say only because it’s the one thing I haven’t yet been able to do, fearless-fun-funeral-planner that I otherwise am.

But I think I have found the role model I needed. See what you think here.

Nancy D. (as in Dog) Conley says, in part:

“She will no longer have to get up early, do laundry, clean, remember to get her dry cleaning, or do the dishes, won’t be yelling squirrel. Nancy had the longest game of Space Invaders with cancer and cancer had the high score. She kept her faith, remained positive, goofy and a dork until the very last breath…”

Her whole first paragraph is snippets of U2 lyrics. She’s completely funny throughout. The inclination is to call this slightly irreverent, being it’s an OBITUARY and all.

But why?!? This is my revelation of the day: When we put aspects of death on a formality pedestal we’re taking away the humanity of it. We have to use different language, wear different clothes, follow prescribed (and often empty) rituals, speak in hushed tones, and completely beat around the bush. Euphemisms replace words that actually describe what is happening, and platitudes replace genuine dialogue.

By writing yourself an obituary that sounds like you, that’s full of your personality, where you, yourself decided what was important to say, and isn’t the usual suffering boilerplate of formality and stiffness that we’re so conditioned to believe is required, you pull off two amazing things:

  1. You leave us with one last bit of your true self—truly, a lasting and healing gift.
  2. You remind us that death is normal and natural; just the last step in our journey.

Both of these serve to make us more comfortable with death (yours, our eventual, and as a concept) and contribute to liberating us from the oppressive fear and discomfort our society endures.

The casual, conversational obit isn’t for everyone. But if it resonates with you, try your hand at a few sentences. You’ll know you’re on to something if it makes you feel more alive. That’s the hallmark of an awesome and personal goodbye – there’s so much LIFE in it!

Thank you, Nancy D. (as in Dog) Conley, for the inspiration. Your words have made a difference.