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Posts tagged ‘obituary’

How one writer’s self-written obituary leaves a legacy

As a journalist, I had the opportunity to write a number of obituaries, including several for people who had gained notoriety for their standing in the community, accomplishments, or circumstances of their deaths. I always felt it was an honor to be able to tell these people’s stories.

Everyone has a story to tell, and obituaries are one way to share the essence of a person’s life. Obituaries become part of a community and a family’s history. As one who loves the power of words and the meaning they can impart, I was touched by the self-written obituary of Seattle editor and writer Jane Catherine Lotter, who in her final written words shared details of her life, her family, and her philosophy. Lotter died July 18, and her obituary was published in the The Seattle Times on July 28.

“I believe we are each of us connected to every person and everything on this Earth, that we are in fact one divine organism having an infinite spiritual existence. Of course, we may not always comprehend that. And really, that’s a discussion for another time. So let’s cut to the chase: I was given the gift of life, and now I have to give it back. This is hard. But I was a lucky woman, who led a lucky existence, and for this I am grateful. I first got sick in January 2010. When the cancer recurred last year and was terminal, I decided to be joyful about having had a full life, rather than sad about having to die. Amazingly, this outlook worked for me. (Well, you know, most of the time.) Meditation and the study of Buddhist philosophy also helped me accept what I could not change. At any rate, I am at peace. And on that upbeat note, I take my mortal leave of this rollicking, revolving world-this sun, that moon, that walk around Green Lake, that stroll through the Pike Place Market, the memory of a child’s hand in mine.” Read more

Learn about your characters by writing their obituaries

I don’t mean to sound morbid, but if you’re building characters for a short story or novel, I suggest you write their obituaries.

I’ve written a fair number of them over the years as a newspaper reporter, for members of my family, and to help friends who struggled with the words to honor a loved one who had passed away.

A good obituary is a tribute and a glimpse of a person’s life. As a journalist, I felt it was an honor to write obituaries even if I didn’t personally know the people I wrote about. Read more