One of the most challenging documents you will ever write is, without a doubt, an obituary for a loved one who passed on. Whether it’s the love of your life, your mother, father, family member, friend or someone who impacted your upbringing, summing up their existence in roughly 200 words is a challenging task. For our online readers dealing with the death of someone close to them, here’s how to get started.
1. Brain Dump
When tasked with creating an obituary, your mind will inevitably flood with fond memories and experiences you had with that person in the past. Before you know it, you look up at the clock and realize a few hours have gone by, and you’re nowhere near close to being done.
For this reason alone, we recommend getting a clean sheet or paper or word document and performing a brain dump. Although the name of this exercise doesn’t have the prettiest name, it allows you to get out every idea, thought, memory and event in your mind about the deceased. Here are some topics to ponder to get your creative juices flowing:
- Did you grow up with this person? If so, what kind of character did they have?
- Did this person spend time giving to charity, helping the needy or doing volunteer work?
- How would their friends and family members describe them to a total stranger?
- Were they religious, or did they avoid the subject entirely?
- Who did they leave behind when they passed away?
- Were they a person who enjoyed a good joke, or were they stoic and serious?
This exercise not only empties your mind so you can think clearly, but it also starts to illustrate the direction your obituary will go once you start writing. And if you mess up or feel you’ve left out a key component, you can always start anew.
Don’t Be Afraid to Express Yourself
The difference between a good obituary and one that’s bland is how the writer expresses themself through their prose. In an ideal world, your friends and family should know who wrote the passage by reading the words in the obituary, the sentence structure, cadence and the way you formulated your thoughts.
And the best way to showcase who you are is by being unapologetically you! If you’re the type of person who makes people laugh, your writing should reflect how you try to see the lighter side of things. If you’re in tune with your emotions, let them flow onto the paper. People will sense when you’re genuine, and in moments of sadness and sorrow, that’s a much-needed quality.
3. Make It a Family Affair
For writers who hate creating documents by themselves, don’t be afraid to reach out to people who knew the deceased the best. These people will give you much-needed insights and pieces of information that you never thought to incorporate. More importantly, it will put their mind at ease knowing they’re doing the best they can for the person they loved.
Topics like hysterical stories from their college days, work-related events, funny quotes, historical moments and unique mannerisms can turn an average obituary into something that people cherish for years.