Why We’re Offering Obituary Writing Services

 In Blog

The most meaningful, and by far the most difficult, piece of writing I ever tackled was my husband, Ed Godleski’s, obituary.

Ed was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer in May 2010, and as his illness progressed rapidly, it never occurred to me to talk to him about what he would want written about him in his obituary. I never thought to ask him what he saw as the ultimate highlights of his life, his 55 years.

The day after he died, on Sept. 14, 2010, I somehow realized through my haze that I would need to write Ed’s obituary, and I drew on what I knew he was proud of in his life. I did the best I could.

Once upon a time, writers from the newspaper gathered the information for and wrote the obituaries that we see every day in the pages of our local newspapers. But at some point, the responsibility for that writing task was turned over to funeral homes. I believe this had something to do with newspapers guarding themselves from continual pranks in which they would prepare and publish an obituary only to learn the person was not actually deceased. Newspaper owners figured if the information came from the funeral home, there would be no question as to whether the death occurred.

This process does make sense when looked at that way, but it doesn’t make sense to me that funeral staff should take on the role of writing the obituaries. They are not interviewers. They are not story tellers. They do not know how to make a person’s life have richness and depth on a page.

This is why I am working to create a new specialty with Beetle Press, through which Judy and I are preparing obituaries for people who are either in their 70s or 80s or for those who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and want to know what their obituary will say. With the cooperation of the funeral home of choice, we can also help those who have recently lost a loved one.

Writing your obituary in advance is very much like pre-planning your funeral. It gives you control over what your service will be like, and at the same time, it takes a large burden off the family. When you work with us on your obituary, you get to decide what will get printed about you, and you will make sure that your loved ones don’t have to struggle with the question.

While writing Ed’s obituary was a labor of love, it would have been such a relief to have had his attorney deliver to me an obituary for publication.

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