How (and Why) to Write Your Own Obituary
It might sound unusual, but in our modern age of social media, it is becoming more common for people to write their own obituaries before they die. And it is not because they have a terminal illness or are facing death. In most cases, these are people who are perfectly healthy and look forward to a long and active life. The obituary is a “just in case” option should they die suddenly.
When you think about it, writing an obituary is exactly what apps and websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat already do—they allow you to present your life in a way that you control. They are all about posting pictures of your happiest moments, stories about your family that make you smile, and other positive glimpses of your life. That is literally what an obituary is: a summation of everything you have said and done to impact the world.
In fact, one of the greatest benefits to writing your own obituary is that it helps put your life into perspective. Few things are better at shining a spotlight on yourself than trying to whittle everything down into five hundred words or so. You are forced to look at what is important and the legacy you are leaving behind…often while there is still time to change anything you do not like.
How to Write Your Own Obituary
Step One: Determine Your Purpose. Why are you writing your own obituary? Are you hoping to take the burden off your family by taking a DIY approach? Do you want to have control of the story that is told after you are gone and is one you approve of? Or are you reflecting on your life and what matters to you? By knowing what you hope to get from the experience, you can better focus your energies.
Step Two: List the Facts. Almost all obituaries (even the self-written ones) include basics like your name, birthdate, place of residence, family members, and career. Start by listing the facts you would like included so you can refer to them as you write the obituary.
Step Three: Pick a Tone. Your obituary can be funny and lighthearted, or it can be perfectly earnest and heartfelt. It can be simple and straightforward, or you can turn it into a story as entertaining as a novel. Decide how you want to present your information before you begin.
Step Four: Write from the Heart. The best obituaries are the ones that are written from the heart—whether yours, or someone else’s. Do not be afraid to let your personality shine and show others how much they meant to you.
Step Five: Decide How to Proceed. What you do with the obituary once you write it is entirely up to you. If you are doing it as an exercise of self-reflection, you might want to keep it in a journal. If you would like it published after your death, keep it with your funeral pre-plans and let your family know where they can find it.