The Writer’s Well Episode 181: What will your obituary say?

The theme for this month is relationships so J. asks Rachael about how she hopes to be remembered by those closest to her. 

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46 thoughts on “The Writer’s Well Episode 181: What will your obituary say?”

  1. Morning guys. Great question today J.
    Taking Rachael’s lead. I would like it to say “Bestselling author Chris was a philanthropist…” but what it may say is “Chris led a life of fantasy…”
    Interesting that you phrase it as “what will your obituary say…” as if obituaries are azoicly written, when they are hopefully written by people who loved us.
    Just thought up an idea. Imagine if at one’s funeral one had to have two obituaries for balance, one by a loved one and one by someone who hated you. Could be a comedy I suppose.
    Shout out to J’s angelic wifey (she must be an Angel to put up with J 🙂). During Lockdown the UK population would go outside at 2000 every Thursday and clap for one minute to show love and support for healthcare workers. Most people did it including the Prime Minister etc. and it was on the news every week. We’ve stopped now but it was touching and appreciated. I’m sure many reasonable Americans feel the same about healthcare workers. So message to J’s Angel, you are loved and appreciated.

  2. I would like to hope that my obituary says something like…

    “He was a genuinely nice guy, who tried to make the world just a little bit better each day. RJ was known to listen without judgment to anyone who needed someone to talk to.”

    Chris has an interesting idea. It might be more insightful to find out what people other than friendly actually thought about you in life. I have a co-worker I do not like in any way socially. However, I will admit as a professional this guy is awesome at his job and is passionate about the role. So while I don’t want to hang out with him I might have a few nice things to say about him.

  3. Brendon Burchard has been quoted as saying, “At the end of our lives we all ask, ‘Did I live? Did I love? Did I matter?'”

    As I’ve gotten older, I have tried to be more intentional about leading a meaningful life filled with purpose…and showing up in this world a better person than I was the day before.

    Yeah, I’m still a work in progress but if I went today, tomorrow, or twenty years from now, I hope those writing my obituary would be able to say the following:

    She lived fully, with no regrets.
    She loved openly and unconditionally.
    She mattered, and the mark she left on this world, and in our hearts, will always be present.

  4. This is an awesome question, and I can totally imagine Rachel’s obituary saying she lit up a room. She lights up the imaginary room in my head when I hear her talk about writing and creativity with the enthusiasm and joy she always seems to project.

    As for my own, it depends on who you ask. My mother would say “Jasmine was someone who never let anything get her down. Her courage and persistence has never stopped surprising me. I just wish she’d written in Dutch more often so I could read it too.”

    My hubs would say “I never did understand her, but it didn’t stop me from loving her. She always had her nose in a book or a poem, but telling stories made her happy.”

    If I got to write my own, it would say “Here lies Jasmine. If you dare cry, she will come back and haunt you. Celebrate her life with a good beer and one of her stories instead.”

    So that means I need to write more stories, I guess.

  5. Rachael – I still can’t get to your podcast website to post comments or find the links you mention-even after trying what worked for WW to see it again – haven’t for months, maybe I am not the only one?

    Made my son promise a few months ago that if I die without completing one of these damn novels then he is required to put “At least she finally finished something” on my headstone – he can be nicer in the obituary if he wants to 🙂

    This is harder to answer than I expected actually. I always assumed that I would want it to reflect a legacy of doing – that being a Social Worker, I’d make some kind of systemic difference – helping individuals along the way. My son’s six years of one mental health crisis after another, necessitated a pivot to family facing and taking the jobs that would be flexible for hours and have good insurance. After a few years of stability (celebrated two years without any kind of hospitalization for him last month) I could now go DO, but frankly I’m tired and it’s lucky if I remember to change the smoke detector battery let alone the world. Maybe it is a cop-out, or a compromise, but it feels like I have more to say now, than do.

    My hope would be, that the people in my life (especially my kiddos) knew they were always accepted and loved as they are/were unconditionally – and- that they were able to leverage that to help them dream, explore and find their own best selves. That my writing helped people feel seen and less alone. That being kind in some way paid it forward for others to also be. (Secretly, I would also be thrilled if they said I was funny, but I’ll have to work on that.)

    Both of your obituaries could say that you are magic at creating community, and for that I am grateful.

  6. I’m pretty sure my partner and son would use this quote from Calvin and Hobbes for my obituary: “On the quiet side. Somewhat peculiar. A good companion in a weird sort of way.” 🙂

  7. Chestnut backed chickadee sounds like an awesome insult.
    I’d love my obit to say AMG wrote all these beloved books, but I think it will say that there was always a place in her house for people who needed it.
    [I have an extra kid whose Mum tossed him out, and this week, I nearly got another one. We managed to find somewhere else for her to stay where she is safe. ‘No, AM,’ a good friend pleaded. ‘You’ve got no room!’]
    I am terrible at keeping in touch with friends, but if they knock on my door, they’re welcome; in fact, most people just open the door and walk right in.
    And maybe it would mention the good stuff I did when I lived in Indonesia and was president of the Australian and New Zealand Women’s association [ANZA] and we raised a ton of money for local charities.

  8. So, I usually have breakfast with you two every Wednesday morning. I woke up. Looked at the title of this episode. And decided to wait until afternoon tea to hang with you guys ;-p

    To answer the question, I just want my children to say that I was a great mom and friend. That’s all that really matters to me.

  9. Glad to hear you are getting your birdwatch on! I’m an amateur naturalist and it’s good for my soul and my brain.

    Check out:
    What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World
    and the companion DVD Bird Language Basics with Jon Young

    both are by Jon Young.

  10. I won’t get an obituary, probably. If I died, I doubt anyone would notice. Except maybe my job’s HR department, because somebody would have to push through the paperwork for job abandonment as a no-call no-show. That doesn’t bother me. My existence has been pretty pointless overall.

    And yes, I’m always this fun at parties.

  11. I wrote my obituary back in 2006 and after some thought see no reason it should be updated:

    DOWNWARD – Edwin James, born in the year 1959 joined his Lord and Saviour on the 15th of July 2052 after officials from the Ministry of Elder Management coerced hospice workers into denying him food choices from friends and family. His wife Catherine Rose followed on hour later. He is survived by his Daughter June, son-in-law Carl, grandchildren Mark and Richard — locations protected. Best known as the Author of the top selling Worlds Together Science Fiction series, Edwin was among the first to have his Right to Citizenship revoked for refusing to sign the Kennedy-Trudeau accord of 2025. Before his untimely death Edwin made it know that everyone who can, should slip support to the Right to Accept the Consequences for My Own Actions League during the Enviro-credit redistribution period.

    This message will bounce in accordance with the Trynamour III protocol.

    1. Great episode – as always – Rachell and J – listening to the podcast while doing my daily walk in either rural East or North Yorkshire

      How quickly time flies – better start a funeral playlist

      I don’t know if you can get on the youtube link to The Specials – Enjoy Yourself – but I think we need a bit of that before we go – how young we all were – doesn’t seem two minutes since I was strutting my stuff – and now I am a 60-year-old grandma

    2. I have no idea how to answer this. So, I’ll just chime in with this. I was listening to this episode on the way to work this morning and what Rachel said was so lovely. I was getting choked up. Also, I missed the morning routine question. For some reason my iPod didn’t sync it. So, I’m going to have to go back and listen. I love stuff about routines. Even if I don’t stick to one for more than a week. And that was before Mom life, haha.

      1. I don’t have an answer to the question other than thinking I better step up my game so my obituary is good, BUT. After listening to the podcast, I suggested to my husband that we move the hummingbird feeder outside the window of his office where he works from home. That way he’ll hopefully have something nice to look at if he needs a midday morale boost.

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