Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Joy of Writing Your Own Obituary

Obituaries are similar to resumes in that they describe a person's accomplishments, education and work history; however, a resume is written as a greeting with the intention of impressing a perspective hiring manager while an obituary is written as a retrospective and farewell. Both written to portray an individual in the best light. The two documents are even set up the same way with their name, town of residence, origin at the beginning and contact information at the end. So why not write your own obit?

From experience assisting with my father's funeral arrangements, the funeral director can be very helpful guiding the bereaved with the wording and the design of the obituary. The funeral home places the ad with the newspaper which charges by the word count. When a loved one passes on, the family is emotionally shattered and not in a position to easily make decisions, never mind compose a piece of literature. I know I was still trying to accept that my father was gone, never mind remember what he did decades ago or which high school he graduated from. My mother did a wonderful job writing the obituary but she would have been relieved if she only had to hand a copy that my father had written himself to the funeral director.

The first page I turn to in a newspaper or news magazine is the obit page, not only to learn who died and if I knew them, but to read about some of the fascinating lives that have recently ended. Some people accomplish so many diverse things during their life it doesn't seem possible to have been done in only one lifetime. Others, who live to be very old, seem to have done pretty much nothing except exist. Maybe they accomplished much more in their life but their grieving children can only remember that they were a good parent and will be deeply missed.

Because of this, I think it's a good idea for everyone to write their own obituary to make sure that everyone is remembered for what really matters to them. The good thing about writing your own obituary is that you're already dead when it's published so you won't care about anyone's opinion unlike a resume that you write specifically to impress people. Another important point is you get to pick the photo that accompanies the text. Writing your own obituary also takes some stress off your loved ones by relieving them of one of the many tasks involved in planning your funeral.

Some people find the idea of writing their own obituary uncomfortable and creepy. I find it logical and practical. Depending on how much the family wants to spend, they can add anything they think you might have missed. If you want it done right and want to relieve your loved ones of the task, write your own obituary. Who else knows more about your accomplishments than you do?

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