Who Can Write a Better Obituary?

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Funeral directors are caring professionals, trained and accredited to help families under difficult circumstances. Families rely on them for many things, often including the preparation of an obituary. As caring as they are, unless they’re personal friends of the deceased, funeral directors generally have limited personal knowledge of the life they lead , and an obituary they write can reflect that. Many obituaries read like resumes and every person, no matter their station in life, should be remember for more than the job they held and a list of their relatives.

Families should consider writing the obituary themselves. It’s not difficult and expert writing skills aren’t necessary. Readers are much more interested in a person’s story than whether proper syntax was used in writing it, and some of the best obituaries don’t follow any standard format.

Get family and friends together and jot down all the best memories about the person – both funny and serious. Once these memories are collected , go through and pick the highlights and personal attributes that most define the person who’s died.

Nobody’s perfect, and it’s okay for an obituary to reflect that as long as it remains respectful to the deceased, family and friends. Also, remember that we are all much more than just our job description. Professional accomplishments, while important, rarely define what was best in a person, so they shouldn’t be given undue weight in an obituary. That a person was an award winning engineer is certainly worth mentioning, but most of her family and friends would probably give much greater weight to the fact that she was an adventurer and practical joker, and generous, and a horrible piano player who refused to touch seafood – these are the kinds of things that really define a person, and they’re much more interesting than an endless list of job accomplishments.

Here are a few examples of great obituaries, written by regular people, which truly define the lives of their loved ones.

Freddie McCullough

Harry Stamps

Mary “Pink” Mullaney