We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
A Haverhill, Mass., newspaperman teaches seniors how to tell their life story for the last time; ‘don’t think that your life is any more insignificant than anyone else’s’. As a local newspaper reporter for 50 years, Tom Vartabedian has written thousands of obituaries. In May, he wrote one about himself. After finishing a draft, he felt relief. “I had written probably the most important story of my life,” he said.
Mr. Vartabedian was following his own advice. The 75-year-old weekly columnist for the Haverhill Gazette recently taught a class on writing your own obituary at a senior center in town. “Don’t leave anything to chance,” he said, “the chance that somebody else makes a debacle of it.” Tom Vartabedian wrote hundreds of obituaries during his newspaper career. This year he was asked to teach a class to senior citizens on how to write their own....
For 99.999% of the people 99.999% of the rest of the world doesn't care. If you live a normal life and die in old age almost everyone you knew and touched in the world will die before you or not long after you. Your children and grandchildren will remember you for who you really were not words written after you are gone. The reward for being a good person is enjoyed everyday that you live a good life. If you are remembered fondly be the few left who knew you that is a plus. But that's all there is.
Don't know how elaborate this class is, but one of the great gifts my mother gave us in the last months of her life was to write her own obit and plan her own funeral music. When the end came, unexpected and quick, we didn't have to struggle with that on top of the sheer exhaustion from a couple of weeks of having to make fraught medical decisions on a daily basis.
Years before my father passed, I asked him when he planned to clean his basement. He responded he would leave that task to me, which he did. Unfortunately every time I step foot down there my mother is convinced I am there to steal her blind, so here it is ten years later and everything is largely untouched.
Forget the obit. Clean up your mess before you go.
I wanted to reply directly to each of the excellent comments above. Wonderful wise people we have here.
It would irritate me for the obituary to leave something out or get something wrong. But lots of things irritate me. So what? It doesn't much matter. Before there was blogging, I wondered about giving final words and advice to my children and perhaps my friends. 5000 posts later, they have more than enough of my thought to get on with after I am gone.
I would like to clean up my mess and have my departure be as convenient and seamless for those I love as I can manage. But we don't have entire control over that. My death may be disruptive and difficult no matter how I arrange my affairs beforehand.
Assistant Village Idiot
Passwords and PINs, what accounts you have, where you post, what your web site is, out-of-area friends to be notified, these might be better than an obit.
Sounds like a good idea to me. Do it, leave copies for the spouse and children. Update it at least annually. Throw in some humor. Maybe a couple of whoppers. And what OldFart said; they'll need that info.
I've gone this one better, I've written my own funeral service and given it to my wife, complete with music, hymns, scripture passages and suggested sermon points (none of it about me, by the way, but revolving around the scripture passages--essentially the theme is persevering and running the race set before us).
I've been to far too many funerals recently where the family obviously had no idea what to do, and it always just becomes singing Amazing Grace and reading the 23rd Psalm. In the old days the default was reading the burial service out of the Book of Common Prayer, but that went the way of the dodo long ago.
I didn't want to leave my wife or kids trying to figure out what to do. And I thought it would be a good tool for evangelizing those who might come to my services; it would also make it easier for the pastor as well and give him the opportunity to do some real preaching.
Bear with me please - When I read the obit of the wife of my wife's former husband (got that?), I learned that my wife's son was, according to the obit, the product of her former husband and the woman he married after he divorced my now wife. Additionally, the natural son of the woman who died was not mentioned at all although her dog was. First things first after all.
Obits are like anything else you see in the paper - subject to the whims of the writer and if they have a passing nod to the truth, well, that is just more to the good.
I was heartened though by the fistfight that broke out during the woman's viewing between the husband and the son of the woman.