Bob White: Why you should write your own obituary

I had seven to 20 days to live. Ouch, I was not expecting this news.

About eight months ago I was rushed to the hospital with a bacterial disease that got out of hand and I was very sick with C. Diff.

While in the hospital it was realized by the doctors I had excessive swelling of my ankles and calves and my belly/abdomen was growing fast. After a couple days my belly looked like I was eight months pregnant. A biopsy was requested and after two days the results were told to me by one of the hospital GPs: I had liver cancer from asbestos.

I had seven to 20 days to live. Ouch, I was not expecting this news.

I stayed up all night thinking. The first thing I thought of was when my Baba sat me down for a talk when I was about 13. She told me what we all know, sooner or later we’re all going to die. But her advice was about getting there.

She said when the time came I needed to be able to look at myself and say I had lived a good and happy life. After reflection I thought that this was going to be OK, I had fulfilled my Baba’s wishes. Don’t get me wrong, I may have had some comfort in that, but I don’t want to die right now, I’m not ready and as a matter of fact, this news has made me very sad. I shed a few tears before being drugged up for sleep.

On the second night, I decided to write my obituary. I loved the nightshift nurses I had for their compassion and great care. I asked for a pen and paper which the nurse got for me.

Night shifts are quiet and the hustle and bustle of lots of people during the dayshift carrying out their duties. One nurse dropped in and the other followed her in to do some stuff and they asked what I was writing, and I told them my obituary.

They were a little surprised but once I explained why they understood my logic. I said that while my kids may know about me and different friends know different stuff about me, only I knew everything about Bob White. After a few hours I finished, I offered up to the nurses that they could read it if they liked. They both did. They said they had never been asked to do something like that and we’re appreciative. They also thought it was wonderful to smile while reading one, they couldn’t recall reading an obituary and laughing. What did they laugh about? Here’s not the exact words but rather the gist of it.

While having a heated argument with someone Bob was told he was too effing generous. Oh, how horrible he replied, I’ll have that put on my tombstone. But the tombstone would not happen as Bob has asked for donations to the BSPCA, no fuss, no celebration of life. As for the tombstone, there won’t be one as Bob is going to follow in the footsteps of Sam McGee. The nurses knew Sam.

Everyone who turns 50 MUST write their obituary, just write it and tell your executor where it is.

The reason you need to write one is simple, it is a check on how Baba wanted me to live. It was very reflective, therapeutic and comforting to know I had lived a good life.

If you are not dying maybe it will be a wake-up call that you didn’t do as much as you had wanted. Since you are not dying you have the health to be able to go and do the things that you always wanted to do. I guess a bucket list comes to mind but it’s more than that. It’s the spiritual and inner you that will be questioned and maybe make/create better days ahead doing some great things you forgot about.

Just write it and reread it and put it away just for yourself, nobody else needs to see it but you. You’ll feel better doing this or you may feel disappointed at how you’ve lived. You’ve got lots of time, get off the couch and embrace a new you and a new life.

Who knows, it’s worth a try, you owe it to yourself.

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