Writing an Obituary (Before You Really Need It)

“I wonder if you have thought about writing an obituary for your Dad.”

As I was cleaning out files this past weekend, I came across a letter from my Aunt Betty, my Father’s sister. Dad and Aunt Betty had a very special close relationship. Not in the way of hugging and outward expressions of love; that was not the way proper people were raised in the teens and twenties of the last century. 

But they wrote letters to each other regularly, relating what was going on in the lives of their children, old friends recently seen, and other news of their day-to-day lives. They were very much like the letters their mother wrote, and likely similar to so many others of that era…very newsy and full of information.

This particular letter was to thank me for a photo album I had put together of a family reunion. She loved it, and the memories of this “special group” and how lucky she felt to be among us all.

She then went on to write:

“I wonder if you have thought about writing an obituary for your Dad. He read me the one for Bob Wigton (a older relative who had recently passed) and it was such a testimonial to a good life. 
Death of a loved one is a shock and we didn’t do a very good obit for my Bob – too hurried and too stunned. Your Dad has done so many fine things, supported so many good causes it would be a fine legacy for his grandchildren if you all could remember them. Not morbid, just proud of my brother.”

I did go on to write an obituary for my Dad, while he was still mentally alert and when I showed it to him with some trepidation to get this thoughts, I had to laugh. Rather than being offended at my “jumping the gun”, he got out a pen and began editing my version!

We all have done incredible things in our lives, some small, some big, but impactful on others. You deserve to have that acknowledged, and your children and grandchildren (even those unborn as yet…especially those unborn!) like knowing all about your life. They know less about you than your kids, and your kids’ memories are not as strong as your own.  

So don’t be afraid to jot down some notes now--about yourself, a spouse, or a parent--before you really need it.