Obits: It’s all about me

Writing ahead of time gives one a sense of accomplishment

Posted: Sunday, January 14, 2007

Who knew I was so fabulous?

How could anyone know? I didn’t even know it myself until I started writing my own obituary and, lo and behold, I am fabulous.

I was sincere last month when I made my New Year’s resolutions to be responsible for my end-of-life housekeeping and hopefully ease some of the stress on my kids. I did not make the resolutions in a drunken stupor and not just for for the sake of filling column space (that, however, was a bonus).

Two things are critical to keeping resolutions: breaking them into manageable goals and having support. Since my list is concise, all I needed to get started was support.

I have a built-in partner in crime for everything — my husband. After all, the vows are for better, for worse, through thick and through thin (that was to cover any weight gain) and ’til death do us part. I hoped that meant the planning part, too.

“We need to talk,” I said.

“That sentence means bills or the kids did something so wrong they are only mine,” he answered.

“Nothing that drastic, I just want to write our obits. Let’s start with yours.”

It seemed fair. He is 11 whole months older than me.

Pardon the pun, but dead silence ensued.

Then, after staring at me like I invented crazy, he finally said, “You want to what?”

“Write our own obits so the kids don’t have to worry about it. Everybody’s name will get spelled right and no one gets left out because they were stressed. Dates, birth places, all that important stuff.”

The disdainful look became more of a deer in the headlights look as if he thought I might be planning something — like killing him.

I tried to reassure him, “No worries. If I decide to take you out it won’t be subtle — painful, but not subtle.”

He didn’t seem reassured, and I decided against bringing up that we also needed our life insurance polices updated and placed in safe keeping.

At this point I realized that just because I am ready to deal with this others may have their own ideas, fears and beliefs about death.

It needs a tender touch.

Still needing accountability, I decided the unsuspecting public would work just fine. I can’t write a column if I haven’t accomplished what I said, and I have to have a column.

So, apparently I am an outstanding cook, great looking, funny, an extraordinary mom and efficient (as the first of my resolutions list is completed and placed in safe keeping for hopefully a very long time. I filed mine under “ding dong the witch is dead” and his under “dirt nap.”)

To be honest, it was hard.

No one wants to think about death, let alone your own. But this gave us a chance to laugh at ourselves, about the things we thought were important that we had accomplished (up to this point), and the things we felt were no one’s business.

We also cried as we talked about our grandparents who preceded us in death and the great memories we had of them, and how sad it was that our children and grandchildren would never get to know them.

Obituaries are historical records with dates, places and family members’ names — things for the future to learn about you.

Writing them before you die gives you ample time to reflect, be accurate, eases the responsibilities on your grieving family at a time when they will be overwhelmed and, perhaps, will inspire you to achieve a little something more.

However, if I get any more fabulous than I am now, my obituary won’t be believable.

Nancianna Misner is the newsroom assistant at the Clarion.

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