John Akerson's Thoughts

Business, technology and life

Write your obituary with your life.

My father died about 8 years ago after having dozens of strokes over a several year period. He lived an interesting life and wrote his own obituary a few months before he died and he asked me to get it printed following his death. He told me which papers he wanted it run in, and which ones he didn’t.  Those were his decisions.

I didn’t realize it, but by the time he wrote his obituary, his fragile state may have diminished his thinking and writing skills. (Or perhaps not) Family members were furious at me for publishing the obituary because it contained omissions and errors. I recognized those, but thought that it was his decision to say what he said about his life. There were some interesting errors, and maybe some hurtful omissions too. I knew he worked at Seaboard Finance through the 1960’s but if he wanted to write in his obit that he worked for “Seafood finance” I didn’t feel that I should correct it. I didn’t feel that I had any right. Dad always had a dry sense of humor, and I thought that interesting twist might have been a comment on the company. Sticking it to them with his obituary. He was the type of person – that if he had been an Enron exec, maybe he would have written in his obituary that he worked at Shmenron.  He stuck it to some family members perhaps, but he lived. He picked the words and phrases and barbs, but his obituary was written with his life. It was full of his service in the Korean war, his love of flight, his history in Maine, his close family, his days at Seafood, and the many companies that he did accounting for. When I noticed he omitted his 20+ years of sobriety and his long association with Alcoholics Anonymous, again, I figured that was his decision.  Should he have mentioned his ex-wife? Perhaps – but his choice was to omit that and instead mention the kind lady that he was married to during the last years of his life. His call, and I respected it.

With the overwhelming barrage of recent headlines about Michael Jackson, Senator Kennedy, and others it occurs to me over and over that death is an ultimate and final equalizer. For everyone, at their death, it is suddenly too late to make any new entries to your obituary. The book is closed, so to speak. 

I think it is important to truly live, to devote time to things that you are passionate about, to devote time to things for others, to make a difference, and to make sure your life writes the obituary that you want.

Everyone dies. Choose your own words to write your obituary, but be sure to create the content that you want in it with your choices in life.


August 29, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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