Let’s talk about a very important piece of writing – your obituary. My father recently died and I, with a few others, was asked to help write his obituary. We all did what we could with the information we had and then it was sent to my mother who added additional information.
My mother sees an obituary as an announcement of death – very formal, very structured.
I saw it differently. I am a storyteller, I saw it as a chance to tell stories of my father’s life.
There is no right, there is no wrong it’s what feel right for the principal players.
This experience has made me think about what I would like my obituary to look like. Forget the colleges I went to or the jobs I’ve had – I want examples of experiences that define who I am, a mother, a mama hen, someone who had a way with words. I want stories. I want people to be able to read my obituary and be left with a smile. I wouldn’t even mind a joke or two.
Because of this experience, I’ve started to take notes on what I want in my obituary. It’s something that everyone should do. Think about it, your obituary is your last published piece, why wouldn’t you want a hand in writing it?
Everyone (I don’t care how many times you go to the gym and how healthy you are) should have a file where you keep a list of important information that *you* want mentioned about yourself. Examples include:
- Where you live, grew up
- Professional organizations
- Volunteer work
- Names of relatives and their relationships – we actually had to check on a few of these for my Dad
- Favorite memories or attributes that define you – You can bet my obituary will mention that I was a mama hen to a flock of 6 children.
- Your final bit of advice to the world
Thinking about your death is not a pleasant thing to do, but if you see your obituary as your final published piece to the world – your last chance to advise others, you just might have the incentive to start organizing and working on it now.
Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.
Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.