DIY Obituaries: The Wisdom Of Prewriting Your Own Death Notice

If pre-writing one's own obituary seems ghoulish or even vain to you, it's understandable. Most people don't want to think about the time when it will be a necessity. 

But tackling the inevitable task of crafting an obituary can actually be freeing and fun. You don't have to worry that people you love will be left out of the obituary. You don't have to wonder what the papers will say about you after you're gone. You have the opportunity right now to say it for yourself.

Ignore the rules within reason

If you plan on having a published obituary, check with the newspaper or other publication to find out how to format and properly submit an obituary. Some newspapers require a certificate of death before they'll print a death notice or obituary, and some expect specific information to be drafted in their paper's writing style. Write what you must to comply, but follow your heart where there's wiggle room.

The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, for example, has a very detailed summary of rules when writing obituaries. (Scroll down and there's even an index at the bottom of the page.) According to the Free Lance-Star, you never use the word "homemaker." There are all sorts of code ways to indicate whether or not visitors may view the deceased and whether or not the family wants you to stop by to see them at the funeral home.

If you want to be remembered as a homemaker, go for it. If you want all of your piano students, work buddies, and cat to be listed as survivors, it's your obituary. Just remember that some newspapers charge per word to print your notice. Be blunt and clear in the "visiting info" section of your obit. "The family would love to see you at Acme Funeral Home and at the service." Or "The ugly mug wanted a closed casket, but his survivors ask that friends and loved ones of the deceased stop by Roadrunner Pub and have a pint on him."

Bring the issue up with loved ones

Denial is a strong influence, but it's overcome with love and respect. If you are care taking or otherwise responsible for a dying person, listen to them if they talk about how they want their obituary to read. It's a very important idea to them, so acting like it's silly or engaging in negative thinking is unfair. Take notes and help them write a piece that puts their mind at ease.

On the other hand, if the dying person refuses to discuss the issue, try to cobble together a proper obituary with assistance from other loved ones. Having this chore out of the way means you won't have to deal with the frustration of writing something later when your emotions are raw and you can't concentrate.

There are interesting places to practice writing your own obituary, like a sustainable-funeral festival or a creative writing class at your community college. Funeral professionals, houses of worship, and local libraries also provide assistance with writing obituaries. Search for the numerous resources online that offer help with professional, creative, and quality obituaries if you need more inspiration.

For more information, contact local professionals like Holcombe-Fisher Funeral Home.