Learning To Write Your Obituary

By: Marcus Washington
By: Marcus Washington

April 9, 2006

How do you want to be remembered after you die? This could be a topic that some are not interested in discussing, but it is something that those who plan your funeral will have to think about. One local group is planning ahead. Today the Funeral Information Society of the Piedmont had a seminar on how to write the best obituary to describe you.

Virginia Roy just turned 70 years old, but that's hasn't slowed down this grandmother of four. She volunteers around town with various organizations and one of favorite past times is traveling with husband.

“We even actually spent a week at the beach doing nothing, which is an unusual travel for us,” said Roy.

Recently, Roy's husband wanted to write his own obituary. "Since he procrastinates a lot I thought, 'Well I might as well get on board too," she explained.

Roy is no stranger to reading various obituaries and she says she’s noticed, “most of them sort of wander all over the page and I thought it would be nice to know how not to wander.”

That's where writing coach Donald Fry comes in. As part of the Funeral Information Society of the Piedmont’s “Obituary Writing" seminar, he's teaching this group about keeping their obituaries true to who they are.

“Everybody has something they want to be remembered for, and if you focus on exactly one, then it gives you a presence. It gives you kind of [a] compression, [a] kind of tightness to the obituary” said Fry.

Fry adds that planning ahead is like, “exercising a little control from beyond the grave.”

He says an obituary should tell people about the type of person you were, instead of a list of family members and a few of your accomplishments. It's also a way of leaving a bit or your sense of humor behind for everyone to remember.

As for Virginia and her husband, starting on their obituaries may have to wait until Monday. "I think we're going to go home and watch the Masters on TV," she laughed.

Fry adds that you might want to update your obituary from time to time just to keep up with things that are changing every day in your life.

The Funeral Information Society of the Piedmont holds this event every year. If you’d like to know more about the Funeral Information Society of the Piedmont and writing obituaries, visit www.avenue.org/fisp.

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