When you die, what do you want your obituary to say? This is an interesting question to ponder; maybe it’s something you’ve previously thought about or just started to. In a sense, your obituary is your life story and if you so choose, you can be the one to tell it.
Whatever your motivation, there are some benefits to writing your own obituary. The big one being, you are in control of what is written. You can really use this time to make your wishes known. Another benefit to writing your own obituary, is that it is almost a parting gift to family and friends and alleviates the stress of them having to tackle this task.
In undertaking such a task, summing up your life’s achievements in a tidy article, it can feel overwhelming; you may not know where to start. As Alan Gleb, author of Having the Last Say, Capturing Your Legacy in One Small Story said, “Don’t try to tell your entire life story or get hung up on having to cover everything, It’s not a resume. It’s a representation of how you lived."
Taking the time to sit down, and really reflect upon your past is a life-affirming activity that can bring positivity to your existence. Writing it can be fun… really! Writing your obituary can help you take stock of your life. This is the time to really toot your own horn; what are your life’s achievements, what brought you joy? Do you have anything funny about yourself you can add?
As previously mentioned, your friends and family will breathe a sigh of relief when they discover you’ve pre-written the obituary. Typically, they need to be completed within 72 hours of a death, and with all of the stress of everything else, having such a massive task off their list can be a gift. While it may be fun to tell a loved one’s story, it can be a lot of work if it’s not your own life. They would have to track down important dates, and hope they include the achievements you would’ve wanted, all while hoping it’s well-written and understandable.
As daunting as a task as it may seem, there are some resources out there to help you in writing. There is a ‘kit’ you can order, an easy-to-use workbook that will help you plan out what you want to write. With a small fee, The Remembering Site provides countless questions about different chapters of your life, to help come up with content. With the endless resources of the internet you can take a look at past obituaries, whether local or celebrity, to find ones that speak to you and use them as inspiration. You could even work with a writer to make sure that you write the perfect parting note. And don't forget, a funeral director is another wonderful resource to help plan and write your obituary.
A great thing about starting to write an obituary now, is that you can always go back and make edits. Be sure to let a trusted family member know of the obituary and how they can find it in the event of your passing. Leave more than one copy behind, just in case. If you have pre-planned your funeral, your funeral director can safely keep a copy of your obituary well. If you leave your obituary wishes in a will, the family may not discover it in time to have it published.
Take it further - if you start enjoying yourself, getting lost in telling your story - consider expanding it. How wonderful would it be to leave family with your memoir. This is obviously just a suggestion, but you never know how this will inspire you!
In addition to all of these fabulous perks, writing your own obituary lends itself towards letting people see the real you, reflecting your personality in your own words. Reading it might bring a smile to their face, remembering how remarkable of a person you were. You ensure that the facts are correct. Writing it in advance also provides some clarity: we never know when we will leave this world - old age or illness, or other stressors could unduly affect our ability to write a succinct announcement.
So, taking all of this into account, you may be feeling inspired. You could get started today - outline what you’d like to include, think about important details about your life. You can write a basic one with just the facts, or expand upon it with some of your funny stories and incredible achievements. Or, you can be like Douglas Legler of Fargo, North Dakota. His self-written obituary simply said “Doug Died."