If you read the title of this blog post and got a little shiver of discomfort, you’re not alone. Writing your own obituary is a part of legacy planning that can feel somewhat uncomfortable.
Writing our own obituary can feel a little morbid and might feel more than a little self-indulgent, but there’s a good reason why you should. Writing your own obituary ensures that no mistakes are made, and it’s also an excellent way to look back on your life with fondness and pride.
We understand that it can be difficult to start, though. We’ve provided some simple tips to help you along the way to writing out your obit.
Where Will It Be Read?
Is there a local newspaper where your obituary will likely be published? Find out if they do or don’t have a word limit. Also, check on any costs associated with printing a photo and, if there is, account for these costs in your legacy plan.
Order of Importance
When it comes to writing obituaries, it’s best to follow a fundamental principle of journalistic writing: the reverse pyramid. Simply put — put the most important information first.
Of course, the most essential information is your name, age, and the announcement of death — but you can’t write that in yourself. This will need to be added in later, so simply leave space for this information to be filled in.
Dress It Up
One of the reasons to write your own obituary is to be remembered the way you want. To have some influence or really, the last word. This is the space to get creative and write about your life.
Some things to add in here are:
- Family and friends (are you a father, grandmother, etc.?)
- Birthdate, birthplace, and parents
- Fun stories from your life (travel, accomplishments, passions, hobbies, etc.)
- Career milestones or passions (published author, highschool teacher for 40 years, etc.)
This is also an excellent place to write something personal that many people may not know. Writing about all the things you’ve done in your life is one thing, but writing about WHY you did those things or what you really thought and liked is what makes it personal. Tell a story from your life or childhood that perfectly encompasses how you chose to live or were influenced.
Provide the Details
Essentially, the purpose of an obituary is to provide three things:
- The announcement and news of the passing (with the date left blank, of course)
- An emotional connection and story
- The information for the memorial
- A great photo of yourself
Make sure to clearly outline the memorial information. You won’t know dates and times, but you’ll most likely know the location based on your specific memorial plan, as described in your Legacy Plan.
Don’t Forget to Edit
Any time you write something, you have to edit it. It’s a good idea to periodically edit it to make sure the information is still correct.
Store It Somewhere Easily Accessible for Loved Ones to Find
If you’re the only one who knows where your obituary is saved, the chances of it ever being read or printed are basically zero. Check-Out Plan is a service that allows you to store relevant documents and plans and upload photos in a digital space so family and loved ones who are a part of your team can find them.