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Writing an Obituary

Many grievers find writing an obituary in honor of a loved an outdated form of memorialisation. There have been widespread myths about the art of life storytelling that devalue the practice of writing an obituary when a loved one passes away. Here are a few of the myths and some reasonable ways to debunk them.

OBITUARIES HAVE TO BE DEPRESSING

Obituaries don’t need to be written in a depressing way. If you take the time to read through some recent tributes, you’ll find stories of achievement, milestones, love, and family. The writer’s view of death is more indicative of how depressing an obituary will be, rather than the obituary itself. Those who accept death as a natural end to life, or who see an obituary tribute as a sign of respect in the aftermath of a tragedy, understand that the depressing part of an obituary is the death and not the story.

OBITUARIES HAVE TO BE PUBLISHED IN A PHYSICAL NEWSPAPER

Historically, obituaries have been published in print newspapers. Today there are many more ways to share a life story. Social media, online publications, digital obituary platforms, custom websites, and other forms of digital storytelling make it easier than ever to write, publish, and share obituaries online.

OBITUARIES ARE ALL ABOUT DEATH

While most obituaries are written in response to a death, they’re usually more about the life that was lived. Many family members do focus on death in order to shine a light on issues of social importance (for example, suicide awareness), but this is rare. Life stories can be written weeks, months, or even years after a death has occurred. More and more obituary writers are treating this genre as a chance to pay tribute to a loved one’s life, rather than as an announcement of death.

OBITUARIES MAY NOT BE TRUTHFUL

While it’s true that many families write positive tributes of love and respect in honor of a loved one, the strongest obituaries reflect a person’s full personality. Some obituaries even tell funny stories to capture the deceased person’s sense of humor.

Some families do go a step further and highlight the deceased relative’s flaws, rather than hiding them. In most cases, the person who has passed deserves to be remembered well, but this does not mean the story is untrue.

THE OBITUARY MUST BE PERMANENT

Families are often concerned about publishing a print obituary because any and all mistakes in the story will live on as the final record of their life. Many obituary stories do act as a final record of a person’s life, but there’s no reason the writer can’t edit, add to or re-write the story in greater detail later. Digital platforms provide families with a more fluid medium of sharing life stories of those who have passed.

OBITUARIES ARE OUTDATED AND REDUNDANT

Some people believe that easy access to social media has made the publication of formal obituaries redundant. Publishing an obit on Facebook does allow people to bypass the checks and balances that are involved when publishing an obituary in the newspaper or in a reputable online publication. This, however, often results in life stories that are misleading, blatantly untrue, or subject to comments from loved ones, strangers, and trolls alike with no moderation.

 

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