When I used to get physical newspapers like The Calgary Herald and The National Post in the morning, I used to read the obituaries quite attentively and with interest.
There was something grounding about reading those as a busy student or young professional. It helped me to contemplate what is most essential in life.
Years later, I started to ask myself: If I wrote obituaries of the living, would I be kinder to them?
In an obituary, everyone gets the benefit of the doubt. The person’s positive qualities are cherished and whatever defects the person had are not worth mentioning, and not only because of the word limit.
Sometimes I really did do this exercise imaginatively. If there was someone who was irking me, or against whom I had a grudge, or about whom I felt envy, then I would imaginatively write their obituary. Of course, it was never because I wanted the person to die but only because I needed a way to kill my own negative perception of them and to refine my appreciation for this person overall.
Such affirmation can be a healthy antidote to any antagonism.