Invitation to the Obituary Experiment On Self

Of the many taboos, there exists, one of the greatest is about “Speaking of Death”. The first thoughts of death registered with us are movie scenes/ad scenes of a dark man wearing a huge mustache, holding a club (gada) and come in on a buffalo. He is the god of death but looks like pure evil. He also lets out a burst of loud laughter, which makes us shift in our stomach. The kind of fear that strikes us from these visuals and the added phobia we develop, makes it a lethal combination to look at death objectively as the necessary natural process we will all succumb to. In this post let us look to understand and experiment and exercise towards writing an obituary to self and invite others to contribute as well.

During my childhood funerals were a normal function to attend. Minus some wailing from the immediate family of the deceased, the rest were in calm moral support of the family.

As a child, I was introduced to the concept of death when I had to accompany my parents to the funeral or the odd nth day acknowledgment function. I distinctly recall the good food served at these events. All I knew about death was a social function and it was something which I couldn’t miss at different points in my life.

The other thing which I remember is the carving on the tombstones. Almost all the tombstones in the cemetery had carvings which were almost a copy and paste of the template “in fond loving memory of ..”. It was pretty boring for me to read those.

Photo taken from

As can be seen, more often than not, they applied the copy-paste template to the obituary printed in newspapers in the respective section with the same wording as on the tombstone. Very rarely I would come across some extremely touching words on someone’s grave or the obituary section. I would then reflect on the kind of relationship shared, possible life stories, or thoughts that would have prompted someone to write these off the template and straight from the heart lines.

My first loss

Growing up, one of the hardest-hitting truths I learned was from the death of my pet dog, Kuttan. In fact putting him to sleep was the hardest thing I did growing up. The grieving process was extremely deep. He and I grew up together and therefore made it extremely tough. The lines that taught me acceptance of this inevitable truth is a Malayalam line which says “Innu Njan, Naale Nee”. it means “Me today, You Tomorrow”. There is nothing more truthful than this.

I have had many people tell me “never speak ill about the dead”. How will I not want to speak ill about some of the greatest who walked the earth? It is mighty difficult. It would be a lie if I just said “Hitler was the greatest” and then leave the rest blank to be filled up blank on how he is pure evil.

The other dimension of Death is how good people speak about the dead. It always happens after he/she is dead. What is the point? The dead can’t hear. What you had to tell about them will always just be words for the world but not for the one who needed to hear them. Think about it!

Loosing someone in times of Corona Virus

The spirit of the current season is the Corona Virus, claiming lives all over the world. 15% of India’s population is vulnerable to this virus. If this turns out to be true, every sixth person is a probable victim. It could be me or it could be you. While death could be looming at large, we could be left with very little time to share what we ‘feel’ or ‘like’ about a person that person. I wish to invite you to try an experiment with me and also encourage you to try it for yourself.

Need for an Obituary

Don’t get caught up in a thriller background music using a trombone, cello, bass guitar, and drum or even that misery driving music using violin, shehnai or a sarangi. As much as it is tremendously deep emotion with fear, sadness, anxiety built into it, accepting it, as a matter of fact, might just help you deal with it in a more pragmatic way. People, take something from those moral science classes you attended. What would you like to be remembered for? Answer this for your self and get to know about it from others too.

I can tell you this, someone at the death bed would want to die happy if that is possible. I am sure we wish this for ourselves are others around us. So why not make ourselves laugh a bit and let ourselves be vulnerable to find out what people who are close to you can share something for you while you are alive? Why let death laugh at us, why can’t we laugh at it too? Let’s accept some of the best movies out there has been about celebrating death like PS I Love you, Death Becomes Her, Ghost and many more. The obituary experiment I am initiating in this post is inspired by a 2014 Oscar Nominated movie called “The Fault In Our Stars”.

Obituary Experiment

You are free to set out your own framework of how you want it to be. Here are a few pointers if you are writing something for me. And I would like you to

  1. Please make it funny, blunt and quirky
  2. Make it short, 100 words max. Keep it Authentic
  3. I would like to set a timeline of 3 days, but take as long as you like.

Some of you will hate me for this or find the fun to contribute to it. To whenever and however it may happen, this is the truth I accept. It is what it is! So I invite you to rise above your own taboo, start with writing one for me, write one for your self and invite several others to write for you.

My Obituary to Self

Born and lived in my own time zone. I was slow and crazy. Found the divine in things as mundane as smelling a lemon leaf. I led my people as the wolves do in service of others. Ambiguity became my best friend after a lot of struggle. I sang, loved, ate and cussed with elated levels of creativity… straight from the heart. I led an honest life but couldn’t agree with any defined system. I shed my heaviest baggage which was loaded with fear, shame, guilt, anger, ego and self-doubt. I wish to be born again into a tribe that would experience me as the person I am today. I have lived entangled and chose to live free and with a non-judged self.

An Obituary for Me

Someone very close to me very reluctantly wrote for me and I am still having a good laugh about it. Still collecting more:

Jim is and will remain the bestest friend. I cherish each and every conversation and banter I shared with him. He set me free in ways undefined. He has a heart of gold and spreads love in his own crazy ways. All women are “babe” and “darling” to him. He can’t resist a pretty face and has to have a conversation with her, to the extent that he can even barter a scarf for a date. Music is his muse, the spontaneity and the way he could deflect a topic with his songs is a skill which many don’t have. Thankfully after a few times I figured how to get him back on track. He has this undying love for Jimmy Choo and the song – jimmy jimmy (Both piss him off like nothing else can). His quest for defying the mundane set him on a journey of exploration of every kind. I hope he was able to be Shiva and find his Ganga to flow with.

<p class="has-normal-font-size" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">On That Note: Every person in your life, deserves to know what you hold for them and feel for them while they are alive, well and in healthy engagement with you. Give it to them in abundance.On That Note: Every person in your life, deserves to know what you hold for them and feel for them while they are alive, well and in healthy engagement with you. Give it to them in abundance.

PS: I am not dying, nor do I plan to anytime soon. So stop twisting up your head and “Be Untwisted” . Whether you like this post or not, feel free to share, comment, participate and engage.

Look us up on facebook and instagram for interesting updates on events and programs we are slated to facilitate. Like our pages and update, share us around. We could use some love and attention.

At our latest event scheduled to happen on 30th October 2020 – Avow Talks and Tales, we will be talking about “Death” and what it means and how we can learn to appreciate this. Do Join

11 thoughts on “Invitation to the Obituary Experiment On Self

  1. Subject: End Credits

    So here it is :-

    Don’t be concerned about your decaying body , professional undertakers have taken care of what is required .

    1. They made sure you look “selfie” worthy

    2. Took you out of your home

    3. To a new place of stay

    Many have come to bid farewell at your funeral in fact. Many have cancelled their work for the sake of attending your burial even though most of them didn’t ever think about advising you even once when you were alive .

    Your belongings will be gotten rid of, asap .

    Your keys

    Your bags

    Your music records

    Your books

    Your movable and immovable assets etc

    If your family is wise, then they would give it in a charity so that it might help you in earning some “fly miles” , you can redeem yourself .

    And be assured:

    ‘We the people’ will not grieve over you ,

    Nor this world .

    And the economy will continue , The day after we will post your replacement job ad , I would not dare to take up that “headhunting” position even if your company offers me ‘retained’ ‘exclusive’ big deal.

    I am crazy but not stupid , that position cannot be replaced, the role has to be rewritten.

    Those who knew you only by face say “poor man” , I did say that in English , and not le Lang ‘Bharani’.

    Your friends will grieve for hours or days but then they will return to ‘what nation wants to know’. You need to learn to respect others views …whatever.. skip, skip ..

    moving onto end of the line,

    The deep grief at your household will last for weeks , one month , two months or even a year.

    All the above , – therefrom would add you to their “respective” FB walls , and some safely to their cloud memories. No it’s not the dark storm clouds, this is high tech stuff – I will explain this to you on the other side .

    U wasted more years than us , not fair. But I think therefore I can live with it .

    Adios amigo !

    Ps – Make sure you don’t die of corona. And clean up your chat and search history – otherwise, well… that will be crazy to steal your laptop and mobile on your funeral day , you know it – just gimme a sign , I’ll do it ..

  2. My advance obituary of Jim: ‘Here lies a man who was committed to colourful insanity, and to uncorking the bottle of rainbows within himself. He sought the untrodden path, forsook the signboards for the beacons of his heart, and turned the colours of his wounds into notes of poignant music.’ Jim, your way of writing about life’s poignant things with a dash of humour is amazing. They say bald pates shelter high intellect. In your case, would say they nurture sensitivity and talent, too!

    1. Thanx swami algulthananda guruji. Lol. That said thank you for participating in this experiment. You walking this with me, just helps me accept that I have tribe who can see me thru this.

  3. An obituary to Jimoothananda
    Aalkoottathil minnimarayunna orupadu mukhangalkkidayil orikkal parichayapettal manasil thangunna oru  mukham…
    Ee pahayan aloru sambhavam thanneyanu.. Edaikkidakku oro solo trip nadathy jnagaleyokkey asooyapeduthi pandaramadangiya Jimoothananda….You are a Very rare specimen.. Ekarasayiloodey parichayapetta oru nalla friend. Budhikoodiyathukaranam nerathey kashandiyayi poyathu oru bhooshanam aayittu kondu nadakkunna… Kandaal thonnilengilum orupadu kalakelikayyilirippulla Mr. Jim… A big salute to you… Swargathil malakhamarumayi kushalamparanjirikkumbol…jnagaleyokkey orkkukka vallappozhum… Minnaminungukaliloralayi ennum ormikkam🙏

    1. For the benefit of those who might understand malayam
      In a crowd of many people who flicker away, there is a face that lingers on once you have him…
      This fellow is one of a kind event or a phenomenon…
      Every once in a while he would set on his solo trips making us jealous, envious and messed up…this Jimoothananda…you are a rare specimen.
      Met him at Ekaraasa and became a very good friend.
      His premature baldness is an outcome of excessive intelligence and he carries it like a boon..
      Even though he doesn’t look like one, he has a few tricks up his sleeve…a big salute to you.
      In heaven, when you are sitting around with those angels and gossiping/flirting away, think of us sometime..
      I will remember you as one of us fireflies.

      @racika: feel free to correct the context of the translation if I have mistranslated the content or context.

      Thank you for being generous and kind to be a part of this experiment.

  4. Dear dear Jim,
    You are one eccentric individual, so young at heart that I feel weird to call you Uncle Jim. That glint of mischief as you recount the bizarre tales is what comes to my mind when I think of you. You posses a soul that cannot be lashed down and a free spirited mind unbound by anything and anyone. God knows how much I envy that. So, Hail Jim Tharakan for your witful words, for being the maverick you are and for being the dearest friend to all of us.
    All this is probably why I could see you watching over us as you munch on your Godfather’s Muse sipping some Red Wine with that mischievous glint in your eyes.
    With all love from your fan,

  5. Dead mans shoe.The fealing of dead would be no pain, nothing to be worried about best of all its over, like Jesus said on the cross. On a lighter note imagine if the dead could hear even with cotton in his ears. Either ways he cannot speak he is tied and cannot move, the 1 rupee coin would fall. An observation they spoke good things only. RIP is the final state of mind only if we end up in heaven otherwise I think its rest in pieces. Don’t know what happens to the dead but life go on for others. Death is what makes me strong it also teaches me to be humble. Believing in life after death helps me conquer death for I will be united with the dead.

  6. Love this !! Losing my bro taught me death at a young age, it changes you. Then going a near death experience bought me closer. It’s taught me it will happen and you can only enjoy your interim journey

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