Think Now What Your Obituary Would Say

July 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

heart on the beach

I have recently come across an interesting anecdote.  Alfred Nobel, the dynamite inventor who left his estate to the establishment of the Nobel Prizes, supposedly came to that decision after reading an erroneous obituary about his death.

In 1888 Alfred’s brother Ludvig died while visiting Cannes and a French newspaper published Alfred’s obituary instead of Ludvig’s. The publication condemned Alfred for his invention and stated Le marchand de la mort est mort (“The merchant of death is dead”) and then went on to say, “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.”

The story goes that after reading the obituary, Alfred realized he did not want his legacy to be about loss and death and created the Nobel Prize which is awarded every year to people, without regards to nationality, that have exceeded in the fields of: physical science, chemistry, medical science or philosophy,  literary work and person or society that renders the greatest service to the cause of international fraternity, in the suppression or reduction of standing armies, or in the establishment or furtherance of peace congresses.

The anecdote made me think, if I died today what my obituary read?  This is no attempt to glorify my life but a real taking stock of what 100-200 words would say of my character, what I stood for, and where I placed my energy.

It’s an interesting exercise and one we should all take from time to time.  What’s the most important about us that would make up those few words on a newspaper clipping, online or even on our tombstone?

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