Scene A: A challenging family member has died and their obituary makes them out to be a saint. You stare at the lies written on the page. Flashes of this person’s rude comments, inappropriate behaviors, abuse, and/or infidelity run through your mind in stark contrast to the rosy image printed for the world to see. You are livid and feel re-victimized.
Scene B: A person you admired and loved has died. Their obituary leaves much to be desired and is so grey in color to who this person was in life. You are saddened and frustrated that they have not been honored in the way that they deserve. You may feel disempowered because you were not asked to contribute or you do not have the relational duty of honoring the person through the obituary or funeral service. Perhaps you were an important person in their life, or a relative, and your name was left out of the obituary.
What can you do for you?
One exercise that you can do to honor your truth and validate your emotional response in either of these scenarios is to rewrite the obituary. It will not be published—this is for you.
When writing the truth, tell the whole story, as complex as it may be. Be honest about your relationship and interactions, give factual accounts of events with this person, and speak the truth on the page. Let your pen provide the release that you need.
When you are done, you can bury the obituary outside, keep it in a journal, burn it, rip it up, put it behind a framed photo of the person, or do whatever ritual feels right to you, but remember that this was for you. Say whatever prayer is needed in the moment, and go be gentle with yourself.
The Little Book of Forgiveness is a great tool if you are looking to forgive yourself or someone else, even when that person is no longer alive. Check it out here.