Woman, 35, writes her own obituary before dying of cancer

Posted by
Anna Brech
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites

A self-written obituary filled with love and humour has gone viral, deepening the conversations we have around dying 

Of all the uncertainties that come with a terminal diagnosis, how to say your goodbyes is one of the most profound. 

Which is perhaps why one woman from Canada chose to take matters into her own hands.

Bailey Jean Matheson, a 35-year-old from Halifax, decided to write her own obituary after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer two years ago.

After her death earlier this month, her closing tribute to loved ones was published in local newspaper, The Chronicle Herald – striking a resolutely warm and cheery tone. 

“35 years may not seem long, but damn it was good!” the piece begins. 

After her diagnosis, Matheson chose to forgo chemotherapy to “live the rest of my life the way I believed it should be”. She uses her obituary to thank her parents in supporting her decision.

“I know how hard that must have been watching me stop treatment and letting nature take its course,” she writes. “I love you both even more for this.”

Bailey also used her last words to thank her friends, who were especially important to her as an only child.

“I never thought I could love my friends more than I did but going through this and having your unconditional love and support you have made something that is normally so hard, more bearable and peaceful,” she says. 

The beauty business owner met her partner, Brent, on Tinder, three months before her diagnosis. 

“You had no idea what you were getting yourself into when you swiped right that day,” she says. “I couldn’t have asked for a better man to be by my side for all the adventures, appointments, laughs, cries and breakdowns.”

She finishes by urging readers to seize the present: “Don’t take the small stuff so seriously and live a little.”  

As our conversations around death and dying continue to open up, Bailey is not the only person to assume control of her legacy. 

BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Rachael Bland wrote a memoir to pass on memories to her young son, Freddie, before dying of breast cancer last year.

And in 2016, journalist Susie Bearne revealed how she had planned her own funeral, as “a (fortunately) healthy 33-year-old”. Craving control over “arguably one of my most important days”, Bearne curated an event “drenched in fun and happiness”.

Images: Getty and Facebook


Share this article


Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.