The Art of the Obit

I have written two obituaries and have helped with three others… ok and have a general draft of my own. Granted it says things like KKdonk has checked out on DATE (pun on the library thing). What? At least it doesn’t say KKDonk was stamped discard today, DATE.

And I have always looked at them two ways.

One. For those that do genealogy, they can be that needle in the haystack. That grand AH HA moment. They can join generations and help hunt down new threads to tug and limbs on the tree. Which is why I work very hard on making the family tree accurate in this area. We had a friend of my mom that we called Aunt. She didn’t make the obituary as sister but dear friend. To me this part needs to be accurate as you can make it, because who knows how it will be used in history.

Two. This part can be grey. I see no need for the mic drop on this part. Maybe someone was feckless and couldn’t stay in one place or hold a job; you decide to say they were well traveled and adventuresome. I have seen the scorch the earth ones and they just come across mean. And maybe that person did not have a single redeeming quality and yet it just makes the writer look mean to highlight that fact. You can spin without lying. It is all in word choice and what you goal is. (Mostly mine has been to get through an amazingly difficult time as quickly and sanely as possible).

Few more tidbits I have learned along the way…

Add things about the person… but not too much. This should not look like an entry in Who’s Who. No one needs to know your 90-year-old grandma won her 4th grade spelling bee. That she wrestled a rogue alligator and won, heck yes! But every time you add that personal tidbit the reader gains a bit more and the memory of those that have passed lives on a bit longer. Don’t be afraid to weave those things in.

Memorials in lieu of flowers are a big thing. Think about them a bit and then also offer some alternatives. For my mom, I suggested everyone do one RAOK (that was actually really well received as I had people email me and tell me things they had done) or like my brother who was a Foodie, I suggested enjoying their favorite snack in his memory. And yes, they both had an actual monetary donation places, but this was a cool alternative.

Keep in mind that most funeral homes have online places for the obituary and you can be wordy but most actual newspapers might have a word count, everything up to X amount of words is free but everything after that is priced by word.

If called upon, you can do it. Find one you admire as a template and go from there. Be kind. Be creative and celebrate your loved one’s life.

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