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A Bit About the Obit (Obituary)

By Tom Gilbert

December 29, 2011

One of the harder things to do is prepare for the passing of a family member/loved one. Sometimes you see it coming and that can make it easier. At least you have time.

If it is sudden it that makes it tougher.

Preparation meeting opportunity has sometimes been described as "luck".

If you are the one in the family 
charged with gathering what would be in a loved one's obituary it is a good idea to prepare ahead of time. You don't have to sit down today and write it, but it isn't a bad idea to have some of the information saved and ready as well as an understanding of what goes into an obituary and how you might want to present it.

In my work here (Your Life Is Your Story) I've tried to make a good deal of what I do informational. I've also been transparent in the sense that I tell you what is going on in my life. Right now my father is getting close to passing and  our family has been busy dealing with that. Dad lives in Kansas City and so does my sister and I'm grateful that she and her husband have been very involved. My brother (in Virginia) and myself (New Mexico) are farther away, so it becomes a bit more challenging to stay in the mix. But I'm really glad I took the time last week to drive out and visit Dad and spend some time with him.

As you might imagine, I'm being asked to prepare the obituary for our father. Like most people, he's led a busy and full life. The point of an obit is not to write the life story (that's another project), but to provide a sensitive and thoughtful capsule summary of a person's life, values, mention of relatives and information about services.

I found some good tips online. One in particular - Writing An Obituary: A Step-by-Step Guide - is particularly helpful. The article is posted on the site along with some good example obituaries.

Contacting funeral services, newspapers and online legacy sites (such as Memories Are Forever) can also provide you with needed information when it comes time to post the obituary. The tribute sites usually allow more detail than a newspaper so it is a good idea to have a couple of versions - a short and longer one. These online memorial sites also make it possible for people to add their condolences and best wishes.

I can certainly appreciate the challenges of doing this work so close to the death of a family member. Sure, I probably should have prepared more of this some time ago. But here's the lesson and opportunity for both me and you. Do something. Start getting the facts you need and research some life info. Dad had quite the Air Force career (bomber pilot) and he also grew up during the Depression. Those two key events along with a marriage of 55 years and three children provides a good chunk of material. I believe doing this work will be helpful to me as I go through some of the challenging moments of the days ahead.

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