Since I'm the only one of my siblings living in the town we grew up in – Atlanta – I am often the bearer of sad passings of friends from our childhoods. I monitor the obituaries daily and often send one to them, knowing they will be interested: A best friend's elderly mother, a favorite teacher, a boyfriend's dad and, just this week, an old boyfriend himself.
"He was the first boy I ever kissed," my sister Wendy said. "It was very awkward. I had just gotten braces…Continue
Added by Susan Soper on April 30, 2013 at 2:30pm — No Comments
One of my resolutions this year is A Drawer A Day – trying to weed through and edit out clutter – clothes, kitchen utensils, books, cosmetics, candles, shoes, scarves, CDs, old tax returns and even photographs. You know how you might have five versions of the same photo, with only slight variations? I now sit in front of the fire and MAKE myself pick one!
Because I am an inveterate clipper, my files on death, funerals, grieving, obituaries, rituals,…Continue
Added by Susan Soper on February 19, 2013 at 1:00pm — No Comments
Obituaries for children should never have to be written. Of course they are – every day, all over, for countless reasons – but perhaps never more heartbreakingly than this week, in the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in…Continue
Obit writing has become so full of personal detail and anecdotal material that many of them now have at least a few lines that resonate with an image or words you might read at breakfast and find yourself repeating at lunch or around the water cooler at work.
As an avid obit reader (and writer) I like to save these gems to savor and share. Here are some that have recently crossed my radar screen. Each of them, to my eye, paints a small but telling piece of a life – some of…
On Father’s Day 1996, I gave my dad a leather chair and ottoman to replace the one he had worn the leather off of – especially the arm and head rests – from hours spent reading, talking on the phone, chatting with whomever was sitting across from him having a cocktail. Yes, probably even dozing. It was meant to be the ultimate gift for his years of love, guidance, nurturing, advice, mentoring, tennis, discipline and devotion.
Two weeks later, he died very suddenly…Continue
Last year for Memorial Day, I celebrated the life of Staff Sergeant Ryan Patman Means who lost his best friend on 9/11, joined the U.S. Army, received his Green Beret and served his country in Iraq until cancer cut his life tragically short two years ago – just days after the birth of his second daughter in a hospital across the street from where he was being treated for bile duct…Continue
Added by Susan Soper on May 27, 2012 at 8:41pm — No Comments
I’ve been noticing more pets being mentioned among the survivors in recent obituaries and have also become aware that some papers (most of them in small towns) are running pet obituaries among their paid obituary notices. In their how-to templates they offer guidelines for what to include in an obituary for an animal friend: cause of death, favorite memories, where to send condolences, who to list among survivors (including blood relatives).
There are also many…Continue
Added by Susan Soper on May 18, 2012 at 12:00pm — No Comments
As Mother’s Day approaches, there are lots of children, mothers, sisters, spouses who are missing a woman who meant everything to them. Everything. In many cases, their obituaries probably did not reflect enough about them – their core being – to really illustrate the impact of their lives or the voids they left.
Unfortunately, as the cycle of life proves over and over, there are also…
Added by Susan Soper on May 10, 2012 at 10:00am — No Comments
Last week, a former colleague emailed me wondering if I had heard about another writer from our we know who had died last summer. Shocked, I immediately looked up his obituary online. The obit said he had passed away on a Saturday afternoon in August. He was 65.
As I read further into the obituary, my shock deepened -- and my sadness:
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the American Foundation…Continue
I recently wrote an obituary for a man who died suddenly and too soon. I didn’t know him – he was a friend of a friend – but because I am a writer and am immersed in all things obituaries, I am sometimes called on to pitch in for families and friends. In this case, my friend asked me to write the obituary because she wanted to give it to the grieving family as a “gift” – relieving them of as much of the decision-making, fact-checking, detail-gathering chores as possible at a time…Continue
It’s becoming more common for people to get involved in their own obituaries, but it happens in varying degrees. I once wrote an obit for an elderly doctor who had Parkinson’s; he hired me to collaborate with him to make sure every detail in his accomplished life was correct before the time came. His stories and accomplishments were told in the traditional third person. He didn’t die…Continue
Added by Susan Soper on October 26, 2011 at 10:00am — No Comments
Among the many decisions to make when a loved one has died is one that is full of potential missteps, unintentional omissions and political ramifications within the family: who should be included as survivors in the published obituary?
Not too long ago, obituary mentions were generally limited to next of kin and blood relatives. These days obit protocol is going the way of the rest of the world and what’s acceptable: pretty much anything goes.
Q. My aunt, a woman of great accomplishment, is dying. She was very good to me throughout my life, and as her closest living relative I want to write an obituary for her now and have it ready to send to our local newspaper when the time comes. How can I make the obituary as special as she is?
A. One of the best obituaries I’ve ever read was the one that appeared in the New York Times last June…
Added by Florence Isaacs on October 14, 2010 at 9:30am — No Comments
When I recently congratulated a good friend on becoming a certified Pilates coach, she perked up and answered right back, “Now I have a new item for my obit!”
Never mind that she has had a long and successful career as a real estate agent, is the mother of two, grandmother of four and a widely traveled, sophisticated beauty.
Pilates? This is important! She worked hard to qualify for this certification – going through 600 hours of grueling precision training…
Like people, obituaries come in many shapes and sizes: long or short, elegant or homely, glorified or humble. In newspapers and online, they come in just two forms: the editorial obits written by a writer on the newspaper staff or the paid notices submitted by funeral homes and crematoriums, often compiled by a family member or friend.
I’ve written many of both kinds – dozens as an impartial journalist, several as a devoted friend, and one as a heartbroken, loving…
Is awareness of all things death-related a perception thing? That once you’ve lost someone, you become more aware of the buzz around you about death and grieving? Or is it that, as part of the aging process, we are all more accepting of our mortality and others’ too? Or could it be that as we age and lose loved ones, we are all just plain paying more attention to the topic – and talking about it more?
A recent spate of death-related stories in the media – all this month – leads me…