Mom Writes Own Beautifully Defiant Obituary Before Dying of Cancer

beth o'rourkeBefore mother of two Beth O'Rourke died from cancer she wrote her own obituary. And because she was the one writing her story, she got to defiantly declare, "I was a survivor." Her passionate obituary is so alive it almost makes you forget that this woman died. And it will make you want to live, truly live.


We're not used to reading obituaries in the first person, and the first sentence is a little unsettling. It begins, "I died ..."

I died Thursday, April 16, 2015 surrounded by family, in the arms of my husband and anam cara, Brendan Patrick O'Rourke. I was 44 years old. I was a survivor. I was blessed in this life with two amazing children; Courtney Elizabeth age 11 and Seamus Brendan aged 8.

"Anam cara" is Celtic for soul mate. O'Rouke lists the other dear family members she grew up with and who remain. She thanks her doctor, "who always saw me as a person and not a statistic," and her nurses. She mentions the schools and the parishes she attended. And she pays tribute to her calling and career as a nurse.

More from The Stir: Mom Writes Her Own Witty, Heartbreaking Obituary Before She Dies of Cancer

And then she talks about what she loved.

"I LOVED my life," O'Rourke says. "I loved a long run, to sit quietly by the lake, to read and dance and sing and be silly with our children." She reminisces about watching summer storms, laughing with her sisters, traveling with her husband, and working for causes. And then she tells us what made her a survivor.

"Of all the things I did in this life, nothing compared to being with Brendan and our children," O'Rourke writes. "I fought every day to stay alive and to be with them." She is still with her family through her love for them. "No matter where this journey brings me next, I will forever carry their love with me, as I am sure there is a piece of me that will forever remain with them." 

O'Rourke admits cancer "starts to break the threads that hold you," but it does not win. She defiantly says, "in the end is when the most amazing thing happens, cancer loses its strength and grace appears ... Grace and love win, not cancer."

What a fierce affirmation of the power of love, life, and grace. It's no less heartbreaking to know that Beth O'Rourke had to leave her family. If anything, it's all the more devastating to catch a glimpse of the thoughtful and strong mother and partner this woman was. But what an exit. What a beautiful and hopeful legacy to leave behind.

Before she left, Beth and Brandon O'Rourke set up a memorial fund for their children's education. Our hearts go out to the family.


Image via A Story About Love/GoFundMe

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