Every day, especially on Monday, I come into the office here at the newspaper, open my emails and read the mail sent to me. It seems like there are always obituaries to be read. I know that is part of growing older. None of us get out of this world alive.
Some days I don’t know the person I am reading the life story for… Some days I know the children or the grandchildren of the person. There are, of course, days when you must fight back tears and read every word carefully as this person was someone who was a living breathing member of the world you noticed every day.
I have been involved in the process of planning funeral arrangements for family members numerous times. It is a very sad, confusing time for family. The folks here at the local funeral home make it as easy as possible, but you do all these things in a fog, so who remembers all that needs to be said.
I am telling you right now, as an adult, your life does matter. We all have things we have done, things accomplished, and people we leave behind. Your obituary doesn’t have to be a 12 page booklet on every movie you liked or song you knew. But it should show you lived and breathed and had some memorable times while you were here.
So right now, take out a piece of paper and write a few things down. Write down when and where you were born. Years, places, dates. Write down your parents full names. Your brothers and sisters’ names. The places you went to school. If you went to college, add that in. Even if you didn’t graduate. It’s ok, if you served in the military make sure you add the years and the war involved if one was happening.
Did you travel? Play the piano or guitar? Write music or sing? Did you read a million books, or even write one yourself? All these and so many more things made up your life.
You are not boasting or bragging, you are telling your story. People use obituaries to find out family history and genealogy. Everyone has a story, and we all deserve – even if it is just once – to have ours told.
Write out the information, till you have said it all. Obituaries can be shortened and compacted but nothing is sadder than a long life which was filled with volunteering and serving your community, but it’s never mentioned.
Yes you will be missed. Yes you were loved. But mention the quilts you pieced for the new babies of the family. Or mention the car engine you built piece by piece. The things you were most proud about.
Then put the piece of paper away. You can always add a trip or new baby or family fact later if need be. Or give it to a valued friend to hold for safe keeping. Or place it in your safe deposit box or bank box.
If nothing else, if the family decides it is too costly the information can be given to the funeral home.
Somewhere years down the road, a person doing genealogy will be glad you left a little smidgen of your life behind for other family members to read.
Do it today, hide it away, your story is important too.
Write it down, save it, tell your story