Writing your own obituary isn’t going to be great for everyone. Even for the jocular, it might be depressing at first, but the intention is to think about where you’d like to end up before you get there, not to ruminate on all those roads not taken. If it’s a bummer for you, maybe practice on someone you’d like to emulate first, and maybe be nice about it.
I’m reminded of the time I was all fired up to research and write a piece on how to donate a body to science. As soon as I got underway with the project, we had a death in the family.
I was really impressed with how completely I was put off the morgue visits after that–it wasn’t even one of my favorite family members! The aversion to practical discussions about dead bodies lasted at least one year. Then I wrote a book about it, in a typical over correction.
If you suspect the following musings may be in poor taste, you should turn back now.
I think we all sashay up to the concept of our own death at times and wilt away from it at others. Maybe that’s the real dance with death, and it takes lots of practice to get good at it. Nonagenarians can joke about death fluently, and after ninety or more years they have earned the deed to that particular humor corner.
Pandemic problems aside, I think that writing your own obituary is a really good exercise in focus and goals. Even though I think it’s a really good exercise, I haven’t done it before, so it’s time to put my pennies where my eyes are. Or something.
A solid obituary should include your demographic facts, your accomplishments, your enthusiasms and your survivors, assuming you didn’t take them all with you. Including the cause of death is not necessary, but I wish it were mandatory, personally.
Putting the cause of death as heart failure seems evasive and not instructive or interesting. If the cause of death elicits more questions, they should be answered. For instance, died as the result of injuries sustained falling from a ladder, should include while rescuing a cat from another ladder. Going on at that point to explain why the cat had its own ladder would not be my choice, but it really depends on how inquisitive your average reader is.
Below is my obituary. It may come in handy since I’m starting a hospital job, but if I go very soon, it will need some modifications–probably. Also, I should note that I prefer to avoid euphemisms like the plague, so to speak.
Askyermom died Tuesday. She died amidst family and friends, the number of which was finally more than two.
At the end, in an homage to all her favorite horror films, she pulled her daughter close and said, “Stay here. I’m gonna check it out.” Her loved ones did not notice her exit, due to their uncomfortable laughter.
Always an ambivalent and lazy student, Askyermom squandered her formal education and eschewed college for mentorship from some of the most above average businessmen in Prince George’s County. She excelled in forcing machines to do things they didn’t want to and in looking busy while actually living in an elaborate and absurd imaginary realm, in the style of Walterine Mitty.
Later in life, she was consumed by absurd ambitions and wrote several volumes of fiction that went largely ignored, despite their hilarious edutainment qualities. “Edutainment,” she said, “can never be underestimated.” Once the creation of her cautionary oeuvre was complete, she embarked on reckless restaurant travel research and contracted a mysterious wasting illness that dragged on long enough to inconvenience everyone she had not previously inconvenienced. Denying her illness, she reported, “I was finally convicted of a run-on sentence.”
She is survived by her parents and her excellent siblings. She is not mourned by any of her former partners, who were really relieved to be rid of her earlier, if they’re honest. Her many children are liberated also, since she had fulfilled her ambition to live long enough to be a problem for them all. Her royalty income will likely cover the cat litter expenses for her frenetic feline army. The family asks those who would like to send flowers instead take a cat.
It’s a really low-ambition obit. It could be kinder, but I’m feeling cranky and sometimes we have to let the crankiness shine through. I think it’s best to start off believable and then improve it from there. No need to vault right to best sellers and jazz parades. I really like the idea of departing like a magic trick and having everyone generally nod and say, “Figures.”
You may have considered a life coach, but sometimes you need a death coach. I am here for you. If you would like to learn more about the bad ideas that keep me awake and make me laugh at inconvenient times, have a gander at my book(s). The first one is available for free through the Kindle Unlimited deal for the first time! It may be even more free soon! To find out about that sort of thing, sign up for my very rare and exclusive newsletter.
Mom is Broke
Is it possible that if you send a dollar to yermom she will buy something stupid with it? ALWAYS. That should never be a reason not to give a little something back. Is rent stupid? MAYBE!!