Seldom do I run across anyone I actually have known. Mostly, the people whose lives are laid out in the death notices are local folks who have passed away in one fashion or another. They are of all ages, colors and faiths. They died of old age related issues, highway accidents, heart attacks, murders, suicides, war, and a multitude of illnesses. Death may come with a crawl or a pounce, as the poet wrote.
I bring this subject up today because a few friends and I were talking about what our individual obituaries would be like. We all wrote up what we thought would be a good, descriptive obit for ourselves. I wrote one for myself that briefly described my life, my passions, and the fact that I am a Christian. Then I listed my survivors.
A couple of guys in the group listed all their accomplishments in business and awards and honors they have received. A couple of others went into extensive detail about where they had lived, breaking their lives down into almost yearly minutiae.
But one member of our group had an obit that read thusly":
"Joe Gordon Died today. He was a devout Christian."
I asked him why he was so brief. He explained that, as a Christian, nothing else was important. His achievements, awards, and distinctions of this life were unimportant---he couldn't take them with him where he was going---and God is not interested in anything of this world.
I thought about that for a long time. He is right, of course.
But the fact is that obituaries provide a glimpse of what we humans think is important regarding our lives. Usually, the obit is written by someone other than the deceased. Very often, the obit is lengthy and full of praise for the deceased because of a guilt factor on the part of the writer.
Occasionally, the deceased him/herself will write the obit before death, so that it will properly reflect his/her view of self. This is a pride factor. So you see we have both pride and guilt at work during the grieving process.
Sometimes, humor is injected into the obit. This can be interesting, in that humor and death do not exactly go together.
Many obits list the survivors. It can be interesting to note the "pecking order" of those listed.
Suicides are particularly interesting. It often involves language that seeks to circumvent the cause of death. Something like "Fred Jones died suddenly", or "Molly Smith passed away at home". Discerning the cause of death is left to the reader's ability to read between the lines.
A particularly favorite expression in today's obits is "...after a courageous battle with __________."
What are your thoughts regarding obituaries? How would your obituary read?