An obituary we can learn from

Nicholas Ryan Dunn of Indianapolis died a couple of weeks ago and his father, Jeffrey, decided to publish a rather candid obituary:

Yesterday my son took his own life. He did not intend to. He did something
thousands of people have and are doing, using drugs. Drugs they know nothing
about. Drugs recommended and provided by friends or strangers that are not
chemists that know what’s in them or doctors that knew how much his body could

Jeffrey Dunn also used the paid obituary to warn others about drugs:

Realize you have no more idea of what or how much is too much of what you’re
putting in your body than those selling it to you. Those drugs do not
discriminate, by race, income, the status of you or of your family. These are
those that care about you and those that you care about. Consider them please!
The pleasure is not worth the risks!

The reaction to the obit has been "overwhelming."

Strangers showed up at the wake. People the family didn’t
know posted messages on the Wilson St. Pierre Funeral Service’s Web site,
messages like this: "We saw your son’s obituary in the Indianapolis Star today
and, although we don’t know each other, we were deeply touched . . . We also
want to say that we are moved by the strength and courage you exhibited when you
chose to make Nicholas’ obituary a public statement about the dangers of and the
heartaches caused by drugs. We will share his obituary with our own children and
pray that your message reaches many others."

It’s too bad more obituaries aren’t as candid as Dunn’s. Then perhaps people would be able to learn from the mistakes of others. What we need are obituaries like this:

Our daughter, Lisa Brown, died yesterday. We knew it was going to happen. We told her she needed to quit smoking, but she wouldn’t listen. She put herself at great risk of cancer. And even when she was diagnosed with lung cancer, she didn’t try to quit. Her friends were shocked to discover that Lisa spent more money on cigarettes than on handbags. Goodbye Lisa, we’re going to miss you, but we’re not going to miss all the smoke. You left a couple of Marlboro packs behind, but don’t worry, we’re going to put them in the coffin with you. We know that’s what you would have wanted.

My husband, Miguel Rios, died yesterday from injuries suffered in a car accident. Some idiot had driven the wrong way down the highway. That idiot was my husband. He had been drinking and driving. He did it many times, even spent time in jail, but never learned his lesson. I’d like to believe he has finally learned his lesson, but probably not. Wherever he is, heaven or hell, he’s probably still drinking and driving. I just pray that he has finally got what he always wanted: An endless supply of Budweiser.

My son, Raj Balakrishnan, died yesterday from too much sex. He had been sleeping around a lot and he contracted HIV. He tried to find out whom he got it from. When I asked him last, he said he had narrowed it down to 23 women. I have no idea why Raj was so promiscuous. It really puzzles me, especially since my husband and I hardly ever have sex. Raj, wherever you are, I hope you meet 72 virgins. And I hope that every single one of them is a male.

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through and You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.


  1. >>>>Raj, wherever you are, I hope you meet 72 virgins. And I hope that every single one of them is a male.
    What the hell is that suppsoed to mean?

  2. >>>>What the hell is that suppsoed to mean?
    Raj is obviously heterosexual.

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