When you die but are alone, who would write your obituary? Who is left who knows enough about you to write the legacy of your life on earth?
Who knows who preceded you in death? Who knows all your family ancestry? Even your past educational or career moves could be vague second had conversation.
Now a day, anyone can Google a name and find out whatever profile details you have previously distributed, true or not. The people living next door to where the body was found might know of any friends or previous work associates. Or they might not know or want to talk to you.
If you can find a family member, they may be able to fill in some details or forward you to another contact. If you can find a fellow employee, teacher, preacher, or previous companion, they might be of help filling in the blanks. Some public records may give birth place and age, but no one wants to give their correct age.
If the person kept records you could spend hours, weeks, or months going through all the paperwork trying to sketch together a biographical outline. If you find an address and have access to it, books, furniture, clothing even the leftover food storage can help define how this person lived.
So you start with the announcement of the death. “Place Name Here” has died. Time and place may not be known or if posted, will start the reader on who this person was by location. An address will narrow understanding of this person by neighborhood home assessments, affluences’ and distance from known criminal activity areas.
Whether you term the death as ‘passing on’ or ‘gone to be with their God’ or just ‘kicked the bucket’ remember every word is charged and a longer obituary will cost more.
The cause of death could be known and available or an autopsy may have to be performed to complete the death certificate. The causes of death maybe obvious like a gunshot or a car crash but without a qualified medical examiner of forensic pathology the post-mortem exam cannot be completed. No one wants to list all the physical or chemical or psychological abuse this body took before it’s last good-bye.
After an in-depth description of accomplishments and accolades a listing of family members who survive. If there are any special request, like in lieu of flowers make a donation to worthy cause or charity, knowing full well no one will write a check but you don’t have all those plants to move.
Don’t forget a photo. Not the one that was in their high school yearbook or the most recent selfie showing the transitions of life, but try and find a nice pleasant photo with a smile. Something people want to remember. Also avoid the dark room shots or the textured backgrounds or the group shots because the newspaper with all their technical skills can only do so much.
Last but not least is the disposal of the remains. Whether any family can or will take the responsibility and cost of this procedure or it falls to the city or county, here is the spot where if a funeral service or gathering should be listed. A time and place for people to come together and celebrate the life now gone with eulogies, condolences, tributes and usually a pile of food. If a coffin is chosen, the corpse can be spruced up and stretched out for all to see. A continuation to a graveside service should give time and location so the parade can follow the hearse.
Now if you are smart, you’d write your own obituary before it is needed. Pad it up so you sound real good and put some bucks aside to pay for printing in the newspaper.
If you got some extra bucks have a statue or a mausoleum designed as your eternal resting spot. Even people who never knew you will be impressed.