Having the Last Word

Originally published at allaboutestates.ca on July 30, 2014.

The Globe and Mail’s ‘Public Editor’, Ms. Sylvia Stead, wrote a piece in the July 26, 2014 Saturday paper called ‘When capturing a life in a few hundred words, try to avoid mistakes’. Good advice.

I have been reading obits for the last few decades and I would say they have changed over the years. There seem to be more pictures than previously, sometimes showing a younger person and at times, also including a more recent older photo. Our longevity with date of birth and of death has also changed, with many having reached their 90’s. The lives summarized reflect amazing, accomplished, and involved and loving profiles typically written by others. The SOB you may recall is not to be remembered that way and instead, leadership qualities that you may never have known existed, are highlighted. There was one obit written by the deceased himself and it is this particular obit that gave me pause for reflection. While it announces a death, the obit also summarizes a life.

Ms. Stead suggests ensuring that important dates and events are written down (in advance) and I would also like to suggest that more of us may want to consider writing our own obit. I have written extensively on the importance of planning ahead, having the talk (with family members) and knowing where important papers are kept. The facts of your life and perhaps your own obit should be included with these important papers. It certainly is one way to ‘have the last word’.
-Audrey Miller

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