Oddly enough, writing your own obituary is a common enough practice that really has nothing to do with your eventual death. Journalism and English classes frequently assign it as homework to college students. Counselors or life coaches have their clients write them to help them determine what kind of life they want to be able to say they had. These types of obituaries are written from the perspective of people that are thinking about how they hope their lives are lived, rather than people who are actually looking back on their lives.
But just because you have an actual need to write an obituary doesn’t mean you should become morose at the thought. Writing your own obituary allows you to look back on your life and decide what points are really, truly important for everyone to know. It’s an important part of funeral pre-planning. It may feel difficult to condense your life down into one or two paragraphs, but try and think of it as the “highlights reel.” Here are a couple pointers to help you get started.
Be yourself. Remember, this is something you want people to read and feel as though this is a pretty accurate representation of who you are. If you’ve lived your life with a dry or somewhat macabre sense of humor, don’t let it stop just because it’s your obituary. If you’ve always been quick with kindness, make sure it shines through in your obituary.
Think about what’s important. This isn’t the time to dwell on that one time that you stole a shirt from a department store (unless it’s plagued you with guilt your entire life). Your obituary is the time for you to focus on the big picture of your life. If you’re having a hard time thinking in broad strokes, try and think about three words that could be used to sum up your life. Then expound briefly on those three words.
Leave a message. There are people in your family who would love nothing more than to hear words of solace from you after you pass. Leaving a message for your spouse, partner, children or friends in your obituary lets them know that you were always thinking of them, just as they’ll be thinking of you in the time to come.