What will your Obituary Say about You?

red cloud cemetary

Red Cloud cemetery in Pine Ridge

And what will others think?

Today’s news is full of memories of the 41st president of the United States: George Herbert Walker Bush.

I listened to the entire broadcast of NPR’s live coverage of his funeral because of happenstance: I was working on a project that allowed me to listen while my hands were working.

As you would expect, the coverage was hagiographic.

Speakers used similar words in their praise: hard-working, generous, courageous and skillful.

The words dignity and honor also peppered the eulogies.

One remark I remember is that, as a leader, Bush shared praise with others for successes, and alone accepted the blame for troubles.

What a contrast to what we read in the headlines about the current leaders of our republic.

Instead we hear about partisanship politics and ego-driven management.

We learn our leaders today are driven by secret agendas that benefit them, personally: not the country.

Today I heard stories about how former president Bush worked with folks outside his tribe, and cared deeply about our country, demonstrated by his service in World War II.

I wondered: what will they say about our current president?

Who will care?

Writing for the New York Times, Peter Baker today notes:

While speakers talked about Mr. Bush’s civility, his commitment to the institutions of government and his faith in alliances, Mr. Trump was sitting just feet away, his arms sometimes crossed, almost as if in defiance. Without directly saying so, the speakers pushed back against Mr. Trump …

I wonder: what will people say about me? What about you? Who will care?

The writer Stephen Covey coached business-folk to write their own obituaries.

Covey’s exercise is revealing:

  • Write an obituary from your own perspective about … yourself
  • Write an obituary about what others would say about you
  • Compare the two missives

How do the two perspectives converge?

Is what we think about ourselves the same as what we think others think about us?

That’s a bold and revealing question.

Perhaps a less egotistical question is:

How do we want others to remember us?


Photo taken in Pine Ridge by  the author

5 December 2018




























About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in dumprtump, dumptrump, nativescience. Bookmark the permalink.

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