Re-Run: Try-This Tuesday: A Look At Your Ultimate Ending

It’s always good to be reminded of this once in awhile.  If you did this task the first time it was posted (September 2011), try it again and see if anything has changed since then.


A couple of weeks ago, I asked you a question:  How Do YOU Say Goodbye?  This is an important question for you to consider because in every change or transition we undergo (and there are countless in our lifetime), the first step is an ending.  Something has to end in order for something to begin.  Grieving an ending, taking the time to really understand the loss of something, can make a huge difference in the way we embrace a beginning.

It has been said that every ending is akin to the death of something:  a relationship, an era, a paradigm, to name a few.

So today, let’s look at the ultimate ending in any life time.  The death of a physical body.


Oooohhhh, I know some of you are tempted to click the heck right out of this post.  Not comfortable with endings?  Or just this one in particular?  You’re not alone.  Consider yourself lucky that you can examine this ending right now and remember that analyzing the ending of something always allows you to benefit from a more conscious beginning of something else.

It might help to take a teeny tiny step outside of yourself for this one.  Let’s imagine that you are actually NOT you, that you are a close friend of yours – someone who knows you quite well.  This friend has the duty of writing your obituary.

Look at your life and write an obituary as if your life ended today.  You can include all the typical details of your family, birth place etc.  But the meat of it, the revealing part of this, is going to be how you fill in the following blank:

At the time of death, he/she was________.

How are you going to complete that thought?  She was…stuck in a dead-end job?  He was…living his dream life?


If you are totally uncomfortable writing this down, no worries.  You will benefit from this exercise just by thinking about it.  By the way, this exercise comes from William Bridges’ book Transitions but I’m sure we have all heard some variation of this.  You know, like if today was the last day of your life, would you feel satisfied with your accomplishments/where you are to date – that kind of thing.

As you turn this around in your head, answer the following questions (in your journal, if you can – I’ll log them in Writing Prompts for you to refer to):

  • Was it easy to fill in the blank?
  • How did your response to the incomplete statement make you feel?
  • If your response was not positive, what would you have LIKED to be able to say about your life at this point?
  • What are some steps you can take to achieving this fulfilling state?
  • Has this exercised changed something for you?  Your outlook on your current life?  Your relationships?  The way you spend your time?  Your thoughts?

4 thoughts on “Re-Run: Try-This Tuesday: A Look At Your Ultimate Ending

  1. It seems that I was struck by the title, again, and started writing before reading the whole post. (and that’s so rare for me . . . . )

    I was hit by the idea of writing my own obituary, as my mother had done a year or so before her passing. She had so well covered her life and who she really was, that my brother and I just looked at each other and nodded our approval.

    However, my very next thought regarding today’s Try This Tuesday topic was, thinking about who I am was redirecting me into who I thought other people think I am. Of course I know me better than anyone else does, but how well do I express who I am to other people in my life?

    When my time comes to depart these Earthly bonds, I hope that the worst to be said of me is, “He was pretty good” and the rest will at least say, “He wasn’t that bad”.

    I hope to leave behind a large and colorful mural depicting a life spent searching for what was right with the world while never being timid about shouting down what was wrong with it.

    Should anyone reminisce by saying that they barely knew me, I pray that others will feel stunned by that statement. After all, who doesn’t know someone that made a life’s goal of being closer to people; all people from all walks of life and social strata?

    Can people remember me as a simple man who was quite complex? Can they see me as someone who was uncommonly common? Can they recall my desires to make others laugh, to protect children everywhere, to find meaning in relationships?

    Or is it more likely that most will remember me as one who never found what he was looking for; who was constantly dissatisfied with his place in the world? Will I be seen as a man who always wanted to take more from life than he was ever willing to give it?

    If my daughter always remembers me as fun, as generous, as mildly eccentric but loving and supportive, then that will be enough for me.

    Who will know how many photos I have taken since I got that first Kodak, Brownie, Hawk-eye, Flash-fun camera at the age of 10, or how much I loved the process of capturing little bits of time on celluloid for my own posterity. Will anyone remember how much I loved old cameras or how frustrated I was by digital imaging?

    What of my writing? When I leave this life behind, will I have left a book or two, or maybe several? Will there be collections of my poetry passed down to the children’s children of my closest friends?

    The years now gone
    Like fallen leaves
    As spring abounds
    And winter grieves

    My time now up
    I’ll step aside
    There’s no place left
    For me to hide

    None hear my pangs
    Nor calm my fears
    Who’ll guide me through
    These anxious tears

    So many things
    I’ve never done
    It’s now too late
    For even one

    The darkened room
    With no one there
    A distant voice
    As soft as air

    I struggle now
    For one last breath
    Can’t keep it in
    I yield to death

    We all have purpose for our time on Earth and we all should strive to find and fulfill that purpose. If your purpose is woven between the threads of some creative talent, may you be blessed with infinite inspiration and the energy to carry on. And if your gift is service to others, I pray that those others will, in turn, serve you.

  2. Oooh. What a powerful question.

    Someone very close to me has been ill, so it is strange how this question has been more present in my life lately. Thinking about his mortality has forced me to consider my own.

    I always remember this line from the cheesy old movie “High Spirits”, which is “life is for the living.” Somehow that has stayed with me, and I am trying to live as much life as I can.

    1. Hi Tina, sorry to hear that someone you know is going through a tough time. It’s hard to watch our loved ones be faced with their mortality – and part of that is the realization that we have our own. I hope when you do/did this task you were pleased with the way you ended the sentence. I think published novelist is a lovely thing to be able to write 🙂

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