The uplifting story behind a blunt obituary

Obit Stig Kernell
Stig Kernell's obituary, published in newspaper Dagens Nyheter, states "I Am Dead". Photo: Nathalie Rothschild/Radio Sweden

A simple death notice in a Swedish newspaper went viral, but while the obit was modest, in life the aviator behind it saw the sky as the limit.

Published söndag 13 april kl 13:09

Stig Kernell had specific and strong wishes for his own obituary notice. He told his local undertaker in Tranås, southern Sweden that he wanted the notice simply to state his name and the words "I Am Dead", along with the place and date of his death.

"He was a special man with a very particular sense of humour and a twinkle in his eye," Kernell's son, Lars-Åke, told tabloid Expressen. He added: "He was crass, too, and that has helped us deal with our loss, since he did not fear death in the least."

"He felt that not much else needed to be said, just 'I am dead'", Lars-Åke Kernell said.

The late Kernell was interested in class and gender differences, his son said, explaining that those differences "persist until death in graveyards where a man's occupational title is listed on the grave stone, while a woman is simply listed as 'wife'. At some point it occurred to him that he did not want to make a big deal out of his own passing and so he went to the undertaker in Tranås and spoke to them."

While his obituary was modest, in life, the sky was the limit for Kernell. A historian of aviation and a transportation technician, he was a member of 33 associations, held a pilot's license and worked for a while as a flight instructor. Moreover, he once made it into the Guinness Book of Records and he owned Sweden's largest aviation book collection.

Kernell died on April 6th at the age of 92. His eye-catching obituary was published Saturday in newspapers Dagens Nyheter and Svenska Dagbladet.

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