This “how-to” article is reprinted from the Winter 2007
issue of the newsletter of the Associated Historical Societies of Los
Newsletter editor Paul Rippens tells us it was submitted by AHSLAC president
Danny Munoz but is not sure of the original author. If you are out there,
tell us — we’ll be delighted to credit you. The subject is vital to all of
us but often overlooked.
To save money, families sometimes deny future generations of family, friends
and genealogists a gold mine of information on a life well lived.
I often read obituaries that are short — almost terse —
containing no information on the life of the recently deceased loved one. A
thorough obituary shares information about the passions and the history of
the deceased’s life.
I encourage everyone who cares about genealogy and family to prepare his or
her obituary in advance and think about the following:
• What was important to me?
• What did I give to the community?
• Who are my descendants?
A competent editor should review the result in order to spot
missing information and edit for clarity. Following this procedure will make
it more likely the writer will end up with a complete and polished account
of his or her life.
My mother has made a habit of keeping the obituaries of our
family and friends for years. People should try to imagine the message their
obituary will provide for future generations.
Often I read that the deceased had 10 children and 20
grandchildren, without any mention of the family members’ names, occupations
or hometowns. When provided, this information is valuable to future
generations as they construct their family tree or family histories.
I see nothing wrong — and everything good — about writing
your own obituary. Just as writing a will is preparation for the inevitable,
writing your obituary — and designing and building your own memorial — are
the actions of responsible people.
Consider including a photo with your obituary. A photograph
speaks volumes about a person and may be the only image available to future
generations. Multiple photographs or a photograph from young adulthood is
fine and will portray your life as you would like it portrayed.
Planning allows you to be in control. Give a copy of your
self-written obituary to the funeral home where you have made your pre-need
arrangements, along with written instructions indicating that you would like
the obituary published upon your death.
An obituary is more than an announcement of your funeral
service, it is a memorial to your legacy for generations to come.