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Spiritual Matters: Live Your Obituary

Marie Higgins July 6, 2022

When project managers begin a new project, they often begin with the end in mind. They are given a desired deadline and then the project manager breaks the time period down into individual tasks, each with their own deadlines. Sometimes there is wiggle room, sometimes there is none, and sometimes upper management must be told that the overall deadline is not realistic. 

While it may feel a bit impersonal, please indulge me when I write that we could consider ourselves a project, and the end of our life as a DEADline. And even though we don’t know when that date will be, as we age, the deadline begins to feel closer and closer. 

More specifically, let’s look at the project as a spiritual project. So, first, back to the definition of what it means to be spiritual:

To be spiritual means that a person gives highest priority to be a loving person; specifically, to love people, animals and the universe. It generally includes beliefs that we are all energetically connected and that there exists SOMETHING other than what a person can touch, see or hear to help us be this best person. 

So, how well are we doing with this? Let’s take an inventory: 


How do I show my love for people, animals and the universe?



For those whose life story I am important, how would they describe me?



How could I be MORE loving to myself and all others?



At my DEADline, what improvements do I hope I have made between now and then?



In what ways do I connect with God* for help in becoming MORE?


After we die, one of the first tasks for the people who will be responsible for “processing” our death, will be creating the obituary. Often, the mortuary gives the family a cookie-cutter model in which one fills in the blanks. There are other options. One is that we create our own, of how we would like to be remembered. Moreover, we could do it today, and use the space in between today and our dying to make doable, incremental changes to who we are now and how we hope to be remembered. But first, let’s do a few more questions to make it even easier to pull together:



Am I actively living? What living do I still want to do?



How do I want to be remembered?


I have done this exercise twice. The first time, in March 2018, I created a really long, sing-song-like obituary of everything I liked to do and the people I loved. The time after that, I cut it down to a much shorter version, but still all about only the good parts of me. This is how it looked in 2018: 

Marie was like the Little Engine. She tried and tried again to be the best wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt and friend. She felt loved by them. She created uniquely. She traveled extensively. With God’s help, she had healing hands. That’s the one thing she was sure of, so thank you, God, and thanks, Babe, for saying, “Just do what you do!” 

Today, as I write, I think about my current journey. Years before the pandemic, one of my spiritual teachers told me it was time to look at my own shadow parts. I had worked extensively on trauma experiences, but now it was time to work on the darkness that I carry because I choose to not face my own shortcomings. What I did instead was told her that she had helped me accomplish what I wanted to accomplish, which was true, and that I was ready to end the sessions. 

So, what happened? These shortcomings bubbled up to the top and I realized when life wasn’t what I wanted it to be, that I still had work to do. Fortunately, with help, I am working on the parts of me which I wish were not true. I am improving, but if I died tomorrow, they would not be completely resolved. So, until I resolve them, I need to add them to my obituary. The following questions help get to the challenges.



Who do I find it difficult to love?



What unresolved conflicts will still be active when I die?



What fears do I have in doing the work to address these shortcomings?



What small steps can I take now to make myself more loving?



God* what do you want me to know about all this?


Once all the questions above are completed, circle the phrases which capture the essence of the loving person you are now and the ways you want to become more loving and do more living. 

Now, in the stillness of your writing space, write your obituary. Begin with your name and go from there. Make it as long as you want to make it. 

Once you have completed as much as you want to complete, make a copy of it (make sure it has the date you created it or recreated it) and tape the copy on the last page of your current journal. At the bottom of the copy, remind yourself to update it and place a copy in the inside cover of your next journal with these journal prompts: Am I improving? Am I more loving than when I last wrote this? What does God want me to know? 

After that last step, just let all this go for now, and just get back to living!

*For this column, I want to define God by not defining God. I suggest that each of us use the term which feels most comfortable. I use God as a universal term. You may decide that Spirit, Great Spirit, Higher Power, Sensibility, Best Self, or SOMETHING else better suits you. It is not for me to decide what term you use. It is only for me to decide which term I use. I often use the term God.


Marie Higgins

Author bio:Book Cover Sprouting   Spirituality Marie Higgins left corporate America after more than 15 years in human resources management to pursue life. Before long she found massage therapy and became a nationally certified, state-licensed massage therapist. At the same time, she felt a partial hardening of the heart, figuratively and spiritually, so she found a spiritual coach to help, and became an active journaling person. Included in her journals are the gratitude lists that helped her heart soften and moved her to write poetry. In 2017 she included these poems in her debut book, Sprouting Spiritual Growth: A Memoir and a Guide to Spiritual Journaling. Since then Marie maintains a journaling practice that includes writing poetry whenever inspiration strikes. Marie lives in suburban Philadelphia with her husband, two young adult children and an active foxhound.