Friday, November 25, 2011

Taboo Topic: Would You Write Your Own Obit?

Writing my father’s obituary was not as daunting as one might think. He died on Saturday at 86, after an eventful life. The challenge was figuring out what to include in the limited space.

Dad had so many colorful experiences, traveled the world, fought in WW II, raised two daughters and three sons, and had a 63 year marriage. He worked for 30 years at a chemical company, trained horses, raised vegetables and flowers, played semi-pro baseball.

With so many events to choose from, I tried to write an obit that reflected what Dad found most important in his life: his family, his paid and unpaid work, his country. While it was difficult in some ways, the experience of writing it made me proud and humble. Dad saw to it that I never wanted for any necessities of life, made sure I had a good education, and fussed over all his children like a mother hen.

I hope someone will have as many positive words to say about me one day.

Have you ever written an obituary? What was the experience like for you? Have you considered writing your own obituary?


  1. My husband just wrote one for his mom that passed in August. It was very difficult, mostly because of what led up to her passing and all those feelings. Then, after writing a great obit, we found out that printing it would be well over $300, which we couldn't do at the time. So he had to shorten it. We published it feeling like it was just something you were supposed to do, but in reality...his mom wouldn't have wanted one. As for me, I couldn't write my own because it would be way too short and bland. And it would also make what is inevitable just a little too...inevitable. Hugs to you and your family!

  2. That was a difficult situation for your husband and you. A death in the family most often brings out an array of emotions in many families, and grief its just one of a complex set. And who knew obits were so pricey, right? We had to pay for the extra words, but could split the cost with so many siblings.
    You bring up an interesting point, would my dad have wanted an obit? I admit I didn't give that any thought. I think he would have, even though he was modest to a fault. I guess I wrote it for those of us who remain, just as much as I did for him.
    As for writing our own-- I was curious to see if any of the great writers I have met through blogging would want to take on the task-- writing one's own obit. To me, it's a mini-memoir, and writing short is harder to me than writing long, any day.
    Thanks for stopping by, AB. I must get back to reading my favorite blogs, and you are on the short list, my friend.

  3. I haven't written an obituary, but I have written pieces to be read in memorial at funeral services for people I loved more than the air in my lungs. It's hard. And equal parts joy and the worst pain ever. I don't think I could write my own.
    You're in my thoughts, sweet lady. Big hugs to you and your family.

  4. "Joy and the worst pain ever."
    Yes, the joy of having had that person in one's life, and of loving them. The pain of missing them.
    Thanks so much for the comment and the hugs.

  5. The obit was absolutely for the living. My MIL lived in a fairly small town and knew so many people. But, she was a very private person and didn't even want visitors in the hospital or during the last few years that she was declining. I can hear her now, "Don't write no F***ing obit, because it isn't anyone's f***ing business!" I kid you not. And, holy smokes, if we would have included a picture I think she would convince the powers that be to send a few lightening bolts our way. Ultimately, I think she'd be happy with the final result. It was short, but very nice. I don't want NaBloPoMo to end, 'cause then y'all might not be writing every day! :-(

  6. Yowsa, what a gal MIL was! Didn't have to ask her what she was really thinking, eh? Some people are just private, period.
    Aw, Nablopomo has been a wild ride. So sweet of you, even after my desperation post about obits, to say something so kind.
    Your Wordless Weds. are killer, BTW. :-)

  7. My real dad wrote his own obit. And planned the funeral, and preplanned, we literally had to do nothing. I don't know about writing my obit, but I definitely have preplanning on my list of things to do.

  8. looking at my comment... can you tell i haven't had enough coffee? he prepaid for everything, picked out the music and the bible passages for the service. it definitely made the technical part of his passing easy.

  9. Never wrote one, but then my mom wanted her ashes flushed down the toilet... As for my own: lived and died, BFD. (Big fuqin' deal.)

  10. I had actually left a comment here the other day, Melanie, but I am not sure what happened. It did not post. Sorry! But this post has given me something to think about. Maybe I WILL write an obituary about me. Let's see what I come up with. Should be interesting.

    Love you mi Amiga!

  11. You left a beautiful comment on the Blogher site, Virginia.
    Dad's death has me looking at writing obits in a different way. It is NOT morbid to me, but is a celebration of a life.
    One of my uncles was actually the editor of the obit page for a Philadelphia newspaper. I have a new appreciation for what he did.
    Your obit would be very interesting, just given the few snippets you have written about your life. It could be the outline for one of the books you are writing, eh?
    Love you back, linda!