Lessons Learned from The Obituary Page

“You know the Greeks didn’t write obituaries. They only asked one question after a man died: “Did he have passion?” ~ Serendipity

I spend a good part of my job working with obituaries and let me say that I enjoy that work. I am a people person, which is probably why I fit so well as a librarian, so I feel that in the process of interacting with all these obituaries I get to learn about the lives of so many people.

Obituaries, I think, are a testament to our sense of optimism as a society. It’s our way of sharing the good things our friends and relatives accomplished and the memories we share of them so others can share in those happy sentiments as well. As a journalist when I was tasked with writing obituaries I didn’t have this same view but I imagine some years of life have helped formulate this much sunnier outlook.

As a writer I suppose it would only make sense that at some point I’d consider how my own obituary would be worded. That’s where the quote from the movie Serendipity comes into play because I’d want mine to read that I lived with passion. There’s nothing wrong with the traditional format of detailing one’s life through their work, their family, favorite activities, and other accomplishments they may have achieved while on earth. It’s a charming testament to human life, for sure.

However, I believe our lives should be lived with passion and as such I’d like my obituary to read like that. My Greek ancestors had some pretty good ideas, afterall, and I think this is definitely one of them.

I want to make a difference in the world. I want to be a positive force in people’s lives. I want to do incredible things. In short, I want to live passionately as best I can and I feel as a result of that lifestyle I will leave this world positively. I hope that when my time comes my obituary will tell that story.

Of course, I have to accomplish these things in life for them to be immortalized in the passionate words I hope for. As such, in a way, I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned from obituaries for they have taught me how to live.


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