Writing an obituary? Feeling some writer’s block? This post will help you push past the barriers and “liven up” your obituary so that it becomes something everyone will remember.
Mix a Little Fiction with Fact
Nothing will put more personality into an obituary than some good, old-fashioned, gross exaggeration. Ashton Redmond, for example, in 2021, died of complications from prostate cancer. He was known to his family and friends as a “big-fish storyteller,” and everyone felt confident that he would have chuckled at the obituary that his daughter and granddaughter wrote for him, which included this quote, “Before passing away, Dad was working with a super-secret branch of federal library services as a private investigator. He flew all around the world, undercover, to collect overdue books from some of the nation’s most notorious criminals. In this way, Dad fulfilled two life-long dreams: see the world, and disrupt the abominable literacy crime ring that he always knew existed.”
Direct Quotes from the Deceased
As preneed insurance agents, we fully support each person being a part of their own funeral planning. If you can, ask your loved one what they would want to say to everyone reading their obituary. Marsha Fisher did this with her mother, who at 96 was in declining health at her skilled nursing facility. Marsha interviewed her mom one morning when she was particularly clear-headed, and this is the quote she included in the obituary a week later, “I would just like everyone to know how happy my life has been. I look back at the friends and neighbors and relatives who have so invested themselves in my life and that of my little family, and I feel nothing but gratitude and joy at how much time I was given to spend with each of you.”
In this age of multi-media access, think outside the box as you are making your preneed plans! We’ve seen wonderful obituaries that include QR codes or direct URL links that lead to slideshows, videos, audio files, or homemade websites and blogs with information and memories. You could link readers to a place where they can leave comments and well-wishes, or stories about the deceased. Try including some virtuality in your loved one’s obituary: you won’t be disappointed!
Reference a Favorite
It almost feels like a delicious inside joke when a favorite movie, song, poem, or story is referenced in an obituary. All you need is a little snippet of Robert Frost, or the opening line from the movie, The Godfather, and those in the know will absolutely connect with what you are alluding to. Think about your loved one’s favorites. What did they reference? What did they watch or listen to over and over? Gail Clark did this for her husband’s obituary last year, after he died of a prolonged and difficult battle with ALS. She opened the article with a quote from The Beatles, his favorite band, “Little darling, it’s been a long, cold, lonely, winter. Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here. Here comes the sun, here comes the sun, and I say it’s all right.”