|Shore Acres bloom|
I’m revising my obituary. That’s right—revising my obituary. I wrote it several years ago after a friend died before she could get hers written. Now it’s time for an update. A lot has happened in those intervening years, and some of it I want noted when I’m gone. It’s also a gift I can give my family to relieve them of that burden during an emotional time.
And, you don’t have to wait until you’ve reached “geezer-hood” to do this. Start your obituary while you’re younger and feeling healthy. Then re-visit it every five years to update or revise the focus areas. Events that were of great importance in your 30s or 40s may fade from prominence by the time you’re in your 60s.
Why write your own obituary?
Well, for starters, no one knows you better than you. And you can decide to include—or leave out—whatever you want. Those important things like name of your high school, the subject you excelled in, the specialized job you did, your passions and hobbies throughout your life. You’re the one who best knows and remembers.
Your prewritten obituary relieves some of the stress for loved ones who are already upset. Your spouse, children, or life partner don’t have to go looking for information, make decisions, or sit down at this difficult time and try to compose an inclusive obituary that represents the life you’ve lived.
I’ve interviewed friends to help them write their obituaries. Merely gathering their information in one document led them on a life-review journey, causing them to recall and relive incidents and tell stories about their lives. Whether they wrote out the obituary themselves or not, everything their family needed was close at hand and accessible when the time came.
The interview questionnaire, “Gathering Personal Information,” is one I adapted when teaching memoir writing classes. It was originally developed for helping folks begin to set down information they could use when writing their life stories. I’ve found it works well for both purposes.
If you would like to see the information-gathering questionnaire I use, shortly after posting this one, I’ll be putting up a separate blog of the entire document.
This month I’ve lost two dear people: one, a beloved, long-time colleague and friend, and the other, a childhood best buddy since fourth grade. These kinds of losses bring our own mortality close to home and demand thought and introspection as well as consideration of those left behind. Plus, our families will be grateful we did it.
With hugs to you this Memorial Day,
~ xoA ~