What do You Want Others to Remember About You?
“All the dates and degrees and statistics don’t matter," she said. “What matters is the life itself.” “How so?” “Well, I always began by asking, ‘Tell me about your loved one.’ Eventually, we always got the truth.”
This passage was written by Ann Hood, author of “The Obituary Writer” an empathetic story of love and loss, human nature, and eventual death.
Writing an obituary is one of the most difficult, yet important tasks to attend to after the death of a loved one. Choosing the appropriate words and articulating the final “send off” to celebrate the life of a family member or friend can feel like preparing for an AP History Exam without having opened a history book. The fact-finding is difficult and often happens during an emotionally challenging time.
Obituaries turn the private moments and details of one’s life into one final public announcement. “Getting it right” is first and foremost on the minds of those appointed the task of writing any obituary. Like an AP History Exam, the facts must be accurate and the personal message should include the passions and lifetime achievements as well as attempt to illustrate the character of the decedent.
Reading great obituaries can help. Pick up some newspapers and browse the content and writing styles. No one will care if you “plagiarize” the format of an obituary. Use it as a guideline. Having all the facts and data readily available is helpful. Families are often left on a scavenger hunt searching for this kind of information. Attempts to conjure up the facts, or even remember important details, during an emotionally charged time adds to the difficult nature of the task.
Organizing the essential biographical data all in one spot helps your loved ones quickly find the common information they’ll need in a number of situations after death. Painting a lasting portrait of someone’s life takes time and thoughtful consideration.
How many times have you read an obituary and thought, "Oh, god. I wish I had met this person.” You will want people to know what you were passionate about and what was important to you. One might say that a good obituary is one that is clearly written, clever, sometimes even downright funny, and always leaves a wonderful lasting impression.
When you actually sit down to draft your own obituary, it's pretty amazing the stuff that you will want people to know about you. Don’t be a narcissist, but engage your readers and tell them who you truly are.
Make it easier on those you will leave behind. Put pen to paper and reveal all the remarkable things you will want others to remember about you.