I enjoy reading the Sunday paper cover to cover. One section I read every week is the obituaries. It might seem like a depressing exercise. For me, it actually grounds me, reminding me about what’s important. Of course, the passing of a loved one is always sad and often devastating. Oddly, even when I don’t know anyone who is listed, I am still struck by reading them.
I am especially struck by the raw pain and sorrow when a young child dies. I cry reading the entry, not because I know the family but because I can only imagine the heartbreak of losing one so young.
I am struck by the centenarians. I think about what they have experienced in their lifetimes, remembering times when horse and buggies or street cars were modes of transportation. To celebrate the wisdom they’ve passed on to several generations.
I am struck by those who have died at my age, many of whom have died from cancer, a car accident or an unexpected illness. All in the prime of their lives. A reminder not to take today or any day for granted.
I am struck by what gets mentioned in the obituary. Some are much longer than others, but length aside, the references can vary from career and professional accomplishments to hobbies to places they’ve traveled to family to a description of their personality and spirit.
How do you want your obituary to read? I hope mine is more about who I am as a mother, wife, sister, and friend than my professional or academic accomplishments. I hope I am living my life now to the fullest so my family isn’t left saying,”Too bad she didn’t find time for…” I hope I can leave this world in peace knowing that I have followed my values and core beliefs.
One last thing: I have strong opinions about the pictures that are often included with the obituary text. I have given my family clear instructions that they may not use a picture of me in my 20′s. Even if I am old and wrinkled, I really don’t need to be remembered by how I looked in my youth. Heck, my kids will just remember me with grey hair and wrinkles anyway. It might seem silly, but it’s important for me so I’ve been clear on that request.
What do you hope your legacy will be and how will it be described in the obituary section in the Sunday paper? Have you thought that through before? Do any of you read the obituary section each week?