Included in the psychosocial aspects of end of life issues is the notification of family, friends, and the larger community of the death of a person. Beyond the personal contact and widening pattern from the immediate family to others, notification also takes place in newspapers in the obituary section.
If you have read such notices, you saw that some were too brief to give justice to the life of the deceased person, perhaps because someone had to do it in a hurry to get it in on time or was too upset, or did not have enough background on the person. It is wise to draft your own obituary in advance and give copies to the appropriate person(s) to have ready.
Your task is to write your personal obituary for your local hometown paper. Give thought to how you will appear in print after you are gone for family and progeny to keep and for the community to recognize you. It is to be written for now/today, not in the future.
There are some guidelines for doing this for a newspaper. The information should be word-processed rather then hand written. In the upper left corner provide the name of a contact (usually a close family member) who can verify information and provide more details about the death if needed. (Include phone number, although not necessary to include for this assignment.)
The first paragraph is a straightforward summary of facts such as name, occupation, age and date of death. Often the cause of death is noted as well.
The next paragraph or two should give highlights and major activities of your life such as schools attended, education, work history, volunteerism, military, professional, government or organizing activities, sports, little league coach and others. Include any special positions or offices you held as well as any activities or awards in high school sports or academics.
Next, include survivors/family, and geographic locations if not too lengthy. Then, be clear about any funeral or memorial services to be held with appropriate location and time information.
File your finished obituary with your will and give copies to your attorney and appropriate family members. You may want copies sent (upon your death) to schools, organizations, or professional publications. Make this obituary yours, do not model on some brief write-up you see in a major paper with many such notices. Do it as a local project for the place/community who would know you best. In such a transient era, you may have lived only a year or two in a new location because of a job. The finished product is to be 2-3 paragraph single space
Lastly, review and update your obituary every few years for any changes and updates in location, job, family members, and others.
Notice how these discussion topics relate to the real world; disasters and accidents dominate our news. Our preparedness considers those who will be responsible to carry out our final wishes for unexpected deaths or tragic events.
This week, you are to write your wishes, from your cultural/spiritual perspective, as to how you want your death from your cultural perspective acknowledged. Funeral, memorial service, celebration, music, eulogy, where – outside beautiful setting, or cremation with a small service in the home at a later time, or other arrangement. What would be the most meaningful to you now as you foresee this event? Enter your arrangements for your final rite of passage and make copies and give to those who will follow.
Make this assignment real: who would participate; what favorite music would you want; the eulogy, family members or friends who would give farewell comments, pallbearers: if you are to be viewed, how would you want that; if cremated, what about disposition of the remains; any written words from you that you would want read? What would you want emphasized about your life – this is especially important and is more personal and informal than the obituary.
Write your response as a smooth flowing essay with details. You have likely thought about this, so now put this last part of your final affairs in order.
Background: How you feel about planning your final rite. Who will be responsible for carrying out/managing details.
The Body: Viewing, Cremation
Location and Service: Wake/Viewing, Funeral Service, Memorial Service, where interred or other
The Event: Eulogies, Music, etc.
Post Service Gathering: Invitees, Reception, Location
If you choose to have no final event, then respond accordingly and give reasons for your choice; rationale/logic, any family issues or personal issues (that you are comfortable to share). Then reflect and comment on how others, family or those in intimate relationships, might be affected if there is no final arrangement for closure. You may give your views on any final service you have previously attended, positive or otherwise, and how that may have influenced your decision. (This discussion must be substantial). 2-3 paragraph single space
Advance Directive: A written document that tells what a person wants or does not want, if in the future is unable to make wishes known about medical treatment.
Artificial Nutrition and Hydration: When food and water are fed to a person through a tube.
Autopsy: An examination done on a dead body to find the cause of death.
Comfort Care: Care that helps to keep a person comfortable but does not make him/her better. Bathing, turning, keeping a person’s lips moist are types of comfort care.
CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation): Treatment to try and restart a person’s breathing or heartbeat. CPR may be done by pushing on the chest, by putting a tube down the throat, or by other treatment.
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care: An advance directive that appoints someone to make medical decisions for a person if, in the future, he/she can’t make his/her own medical decisions.
Reading material – pdf ATTACHED
Chapter 57: The American Funeral
BERT HAYSLIP JR., KENNETH W. SEWELL & RUSSELL B. RIDDLE