Inspiration for smokers

November 15th is the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout – an annual event designed to encourage people to stop smoking. It is intended to both provide tips and support for those attempting to quit, but also to draw attention to the deaths and chronic diseases caused by smoking.

We at Legacy.com wanted to do our part by sharing an obituary that has inspired smokers to quit.

Before his death from lung cancer, Val Patterson wrote his own obituary. The shocking confessions he included caused his obituary to go viral. But it was this paragraph that really struck us: 

My regret is that I felt invincible when young and smoked cigarettes when I knew they were bad for me. Now, to make it worse, I have robbed my beloved Mary Jane of a decade or more of the two of us growing old together and laughing at all the thousands of simple things that we have come to enjoy and fill our lives with such happy words and moments. My pain is enormous, but it pales in comparison to watching my wife feel my pain as she lovingly cares for and comforts me. I feel such the “thief” now – for stealing so much from her – there is no pill I can take to erase that pain.

And it struck our readers as well. Here are some of the responses received in his Guest Book:

i just quit smoking 4 days ago and this just popped up on my yahoo feed.. Val patterson thank you good sir for keep my strength. 

What a legacy you have left behind. I to am a smoker and reading your words has influenced my decision to quit more so than any tv ad or doctor ever could. Thank you for the gift you are giving many by your story. Even in death you are are still a shining light.

On my way to work one morning I heard this read on the Bert Morning show though a local radio station. They meant for it to me light hearted sharing the confessions that Val could no longer hide. They continued to read on to the regrets about smoking cigarettes when he know they were bad and robbing his beloved wife of a decade or more of them growing old together and the pain he felt seeing his wife care and comfort him. “Feeling like a thief.” I recently married the love of my life on July 14th 2012. He is a non smoker. I can’t imagine putting him through that kind of pain. I have called the tobacco quit line that is offered here in Indiana and have set a quit date of August 3rd 2012. I am going to use Val and Mary Jane as my inspiration. I have printed the obituary and will be carrying it with me at all times. When I have a craving I will read the message from Val and remember my reason to quit. You are my inspiration Val! I didn’t know you but I will never forget you or be able to thank you enough for sharing your story and saving my life!

My condolences to his family, my name is Hamad From Dubai, UAE. i read about Val final words in arabic newspaper , and touched me. i searched the net to read more about Val’s obituary, i am a smoker and trying to quit and Val words added to my determination to do so.

After reading this I decided today to quit smoking. Thank you and my deepest sympathies for your loss.

To all those working to stop smoking, our best wishes are with you.

About Katie

I joined Legacy.com in 2002 as a part-time content screener and now serve as Director of Operations, overseeing Legacy’s day-to-day operations (Guest Book screening, obituary processing, customer service, and client service). I grew up in California, the daughter of a psychologist and a minister. My parents instilled in me the importance of listening to and caring about others. One of the things I appreciate most about working at Legacy.com is that I am able to have a small part in easing people's pain during one of the most difficult times in their lives. In my life outside of Legacy, I enjoy baking treats (and bringing them to the office to share), playing the piano, reading, taking pictures, tending to our vegetable & herb gardens, trying out new restaurants and foods, spending time with my husband, Chuck (whom I met at Legacy) and our kids, Brett Jr. & Josie, and playing with our hound dogs, Mugsy and Bo Jangles.
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