Please, Don’t Write My Obituary!

Raymond Eugene "Gene" Smith Obituary 1989
Raymond Eugene “Gene” Smith Obituary 1989

This really seems like an odd request doesn’t it? If one is not written how else will people know when I leave this world? In most newspapers and even online they list the names of those who recently passed away and maybe a line or two telling a persons age and which funeral home will be handling the service. For me, this would be all I would want. Now the question may arise “WHY?”

As I search through the information I have found concerning my Ancestors I have discovered quite a few obituaries. Although most of them speak highly of the dearly departed there usually isn’t much else written about them.  Yes, some list the names of children and grandchildren or possibly an occupation or a club membership but when you think about the person’s life was that all there was?

My Uncle Gene lived for 72 years. In his obituary it sums up his life this way…died in Oak Grove Missouri, born in Napoleon

Uncle Gene and his well trained dog "Tiny".
Uncle Gene and his well trained dog “Tiny”.

Missouri, married, 5 children, 23 grandchildren, 5 great grandchildren, one remaining sibling (my mother) and that he was a retired carpenter. That’s it, just one small paragraph to cover an entire lifetime!  Nowhere does it tell that he used to raise Chinchillas in his basement on the large farm that he owned just outside of Oak Grove MO. He grew many crops very successfully, raised cows, horses and chickens. He was an avid hunter and fisherman. He loved animals and he could train any dog.  He loved to read and tell jokes. He was very artistic, not only with his wood carvings but with painting on canvas. He was a friend to everyone and he was a well thought of man in his town. He was also someone you didn’t want to get mad at you! He developed diabetes and at the age of 68 had to have his right leg amputated just below the knee.  You would never know any of this or any of the other great things he did by looking at his obituary.

So, “Please Don’t Write My Obituary”. Instead, I will write my life story and include all the things I want future generations to know about me. The good, the bad and yes even some of the ugly. So this is my mission, to sit and contemplate all the events in my life and to decide what to include and what to leave out. I will dig through my picture box and find pictures to enhance my stories. I can share some of the hard lessons that I have learned. Most importantly, I will share it all from my heart.


Will you join me by beginning your own mission to leave behind more than just an Obituary? If you haven’t started writing your own life story yet, today is a good day to start.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

8 thoughts on “Please, Don’t Write My Obituary!

  1. Just this past year my husband and I did our will, updated beneficiaries on my insurance policy, and purchased our cremation plans. Sounds morbid, but our family saw seven people die in the span of eighteen months.

    Within the cremation planning we were given memory books and some beautiful boxes, one for ashes, the other for the memory book and any small incidentals we wanted to place.

    I agree with you fully. I believe we should write our own obituaries. Our sole reason for getting everything planned came as a desire to take burdens off of our two grown daughters. I plan on using a bit of wit as I write. I’m not disappearing from memory and I’d like a celebration, not a damn funeral!

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