The Obituary. Your last chance to get published.

Often the “obit” is left to the living to put together for their dearly departed. In the midst of dealing with their loss, they have to pick just the right picture; select the most appropriate verse of poetry or scripture; or compose a meaningful passage; decide on a layout; convey these thoughts to some stranger at the newspaper office or a funeral director.

Given all this activity, preparing your own obituary ahead of time – when death is the last thing on your mind, may be one of the kindest, least selfish things anyone could do for their loved ones. You decide – the photograph, the layout, the text and the tone. Maybe even which paper your obituary appears in. Or even if you want to announce your departure to the general public in the first place.

You spend some time gathering your thoughts on these matters. Then you put everything down on paper. These instructions to your next-of-kin go into a folder with your choice of photograph – again anything you want. Then let them know where it is – should the inevitable happen. All they need to do is fish out the folder, and hand it to the funeral director or newspaper obituary office. Oh, you may want to update the obituary every once in a while. Perhaps the photograph of you from the 70’s with the mutton-chop sideburns isn’t the rage anymore. Or you could have gone from daughter to grandmother over the years, so more names to be added to it.

So plan your obituary, put away the folder, and get on with your life!

Stuff for Your Obituary

What do you put in your obituary? Anything you want. It’s your obituary, for goodness sake. Here are some basic “should haves” to get you started. Just make sure your obit doesn’t look like a job application!

  • The usual bits of information. Your name (and maybe a cool nickname if you have one); birth date (unless you’re a remarkable psychic, leave the date of expiry for your next-of-kin to fill in); birthplace; parents’ names and mother’s maiden name; where you went to school; what you did for a living (or not); a list of “Who’s Who” in your life – significant other, kids, siblings, grandparents, caregivers, your favourite pet, etc.
  • Any special commendations you’re particularly proud of – an award, a title (maybe you have an OBE up your sleeve?) or that “Banker of the Year” award – stuff like that.
  • Any associations, clubs or special interest groups you’d like to mention
  • A personal anecdote you may wish to share
  • Your favourite verse of poetry or quotation
  • Information on which charity any monetary contributions can be sent to
  • Your photograph. The usual safe shot. Something more active. In a costume. How about a caricature?

Or you could get really creative and do something out of the ordinary. Whatever you decide, remember that while this is your obituary, it is also to help inform those who know you that you’re gone. And to bring those you’ve left behind some solace. Make it funny, witty, profound – but always dignified.