I always read the obituaries in the daily newspaper. It amazes me that there are so many wonderful people who I have never met. Some are described as being devoted family members and good friends. Others are lauded for their career accomplishments or volunteer work. Many are remembered for amazing skills that they had or the specific interests that they had over the years. There is usually mention of their loyalty for sports teams, passion for activities such as gardening or desire to please others with their baking.
All of the obituaries describe the person's life from birth onwards. Parents, siblings, spouses and children are listed. Sometimes a special pet is mentioned. Places of residence are also described along with an employment history.
The things that are not included are financial gains or losses, insults that are given or received as well as what might be considered life failures.
The template used is pretty standard.
Recently I was surprised to read an article and Obituary on Huffington Post about a woman who died in 2013. She had given birth to eight children and one of them wrote and had published a scathing Obituary that described her as someone who "spent her life subjecting them to horrible abuse". It states: "we celebrate her death from this earth and hope she lives in the after-life reliving each gesture of violence, cruelty, and shame that she delivered on her children". It also reported that their nightmare was now over. The author stated that her Obituary was mild compared to what some of her siblings might have written.
The Obituary had apparently been printed in a Nevada newspaper as well as at their online site but has since been removed by management. This likely occurred because it was shocking to see the ugly picture that was painted about this woman by her adult child. We are supposed to have respect for the dead!
Often I have thought about how obituaries are written. This is usually done during a time of great emotional stress and with time constraints. The opinions of people may vary but the one who writes the final copy is the person who influences memories and provides facts for genealogists.
This week, invest some time in answering the following questions:
- Who will write your obituary?
- Will it be an accurate representation of your life?
- What information will be missing?
Perhaps it would be a good idea to write a draft of your own obituary. Include the important facts that others might not know about you. Consider adding goals that you would like to accomplish before it is ever published (and then work towards them).
Maybe it would be a good idea to also consider what your staunchest enemy would write and then use that as a reminder that all things can be resolved with communication and forgiveness. As long as you are alive you will have the opportunity to make things right.
You see, once you have died it is too late to change what others think about you. You can only do that when you are alive!