We’re born. We live. We die.
That may sum up our lives in six words but it doesn’t really differentiate our lives from the billions of other we(s) out there. For most of us, our obituaries are the final words of our personal history. For that reason, I encourage people to write their own obituaries or to work with a personal historian to have it done to your standards.
After all, who knows your life better than you? Wouldn’t you really rather take the time while you have it to distill your life to 250 or so meaningful words rather than having someone you’ve never met do it after you’re gone?
I wrote about this topic after attending an obituary writing workshop at the Nashville conference of the Association of Personal Historians last November. Obituary writing is an art form that is disappearing from the pages of many U.S. newspapers. Fortunately, personal historians have stepped up to ensure that everyone has access to a skilled professional that can create a memorable final tribute.
Many of the professional obituary writers in the U.S. belong to the fledgling Society of Professional Obituary Writers, which is having a workshop in Portland, Ore., on May 8-11. In conjunction with this workshop, awards will be presented to the best obituaries produced in 2007. The writers have graciously posted entries to this competition. Check them out to see what a well-crafted final tribute to a loved one can look like.
To find a personal historian in your area, go to the Association of Personal Historians web site.