Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Death: DIY

My great idea is finally catching on, and as usual I don’t get any credit for it. Maybe because I kept it to myself. “Selfie obits” are now to die for, as reported in “USA Today.”
Writing your own obituary was a brainstorm that came to me six or seven years ago, when my former best friend died and no one had much to say at his funeral. My pal had been brilliant and creative and eloquent, as well as never shy about self-promotion, and a self-crafted obit would have been right down his alley. As it was, his family/friends could barely muster the resources to run even a small notice of his death in the newspaper.
Look what Grandma did!
It is just such cruel happenstances of fate that we can take arms against with an “auto-obituary.” Why leave it to someone else to sum up your life, even a loved one? Or particularly a loved one, who may be prostrate with grief, preoccupied with other details of your final disposition, or otherwise without the wherewithal to give you a proper written send-off?
To paraphrase Big Daddy in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” most people don’t get in the paper until they die. When they do, it’s often, well, disappointing. One or two lines about the deceased, who more than likely never met a stranger, and the rest of the space given over to a listing of the survivors. Composing your own obituary just might reassure you that you’ll escape a fate worse than death: Irrelevance.
The “USA” article references Susan Soper of Atlanta, who offers the “Obitkit” as a guide to help people take control of their deaths, including writing their own obituaries. Just perusing her site, it seems to me there’s one major element lacking: Obitwit.

Since death can come at any time, it’s never too early to start working on your obit. (You can always update it, like your resume.) Give it enough thought and effort, and who knows, maybe you’ll help contribute to a whole new genre: Obitlit.