The strange thing about obituaries

A classmate of mine died recently. I hadn’t seen her since we graduated from high school but when I saw her picture in the obituary column, I was stunned. Her family had chosen her graduation picture to publish. It was the same picture that was in the yearbook. She was a 64-year-old woman but the picture was taken when she was 17 years old. Her hair was very 1960s and so were here clothes. The picture looked like it came from a different century. (Oh, wait, it did!) I often wonder why people do that. Was there no recent photo…one taken within the last 45 years?

This wasn’t the first one though. Two years ago, another classmate died and her family also used her graduation photograph.

You often see a 90-year-old man in the obits with his military picture from when he was 22 years old…or maybe a 90-year-old woman with a 1940-ish pompadour hairstyle that was probably her engagement photo. If you only knew them when they were older, how would you recognize them?

The other thing I notice in obituaries is that people put in all kinds of things or accomplishments that really aren’t relevant or maybe aren’t even accomplishments. Here are some examples of octogenarian obituaries:

  • Joe Doe received three badges when he was in the boy scouts.
  • Susie Silly was the star butterfly of her second grade play.
  • Jackie Dodo was a straight A student until she reached high school when her attention was diverted to boys and booze. (Oops, I did alter that a bit.)
  • Eighty-five year old Alma Gogetter was the captain of her junior varsity cheerleading squad. Yay team!

Then there are the love declarations.

  • Bonnie Boop was loved by all who knew her (really???).
  • She will be missed by scores of friends (how many are a score??).

Pondering on this I gave the beloved husband some specifics for my obituary.

  • He is to use my second grade school photo. No one will recognize me in my cool page-boy.
  • He is to include the notations made by the nuns on all of my grade school report cards. (Most were lovely except for Sister Catalda who said I talked too much.)
  • He is to include the fact that I was the captain of my intramural basketball team when I was in tenth grade. It was an elected position and I let everyone do what they wanted, so they elected me! (Maybe I should run for president??)
  • In the survivors section I want him to include not only my surviving pets but also those that have gone before me. It will take a lot of space considering he will need to go all the way back to my first canary, followed by dogs and cats and more canaries. After all, they were very dear to me.

That obituary should bring a smile to everyone or the ensuing party will. Next I will work on my epitaph.

26 thoughts on “The strange thing about obituaries

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  3. I once contemplated writing my own obituary. However, being the procrastinator that I am, I decided to wait until the last minute. It was blank.


  4. A great post spawns great comments…what a fabulous bunch here. I wish funny people would right funny, self-deprecating obits…all tongue-in-cheek and engaging. I think there’s a community here that could start a new trend…until…ooops…that last wacky photo.


    • This did spark a great set of comments. I was afraid it was too close to the edge of funny. I hope I can keep my humor until the end (and then some). I love the stories about people who knew they were dying and set up things to be sent after they were gone. Cool.


  5. Very funny topic. Found your blog on Paprika’s blog page! I asked my Dad to help me write his obit because there was so much to include!! Hope he liked how it looked in the paper with a very handsome photo of him! Enjoyed all the comments, too!


  6. A score is 20, which means there were a minimum of 40 people that will miss her – but they don’t say for how long. So it doesn’t seem unreasonable to have 40+ people miss her for a minute or two after reading the obit.


  7. Wonderful wake up reading – and I too have noticed your examples – well chosen. I am going to have to name all the frogs so they too can be included in the obit along with the pets. Great humor!


  8. My husband’s aunt wrote her own obituary. She called around to various organizations to make sure she had her dates right. And she wrote several paragraphs about her tennis and basketball awards she received in the 1930s and 1940s. But I loved her obit. It showed you what she was proud of. And then she planned a funeral repast with one huge table of shrimp. It’s not a party, she said, if you run out of shrimp. What a lady!


  9. So well written Kate and exactly what I have often noticed too. I already have chosen the photo I want them to use of me…………….a horrid one where I was having a bad hair day, no makeup and an early morning shot of me ( I am so not a morning person) That way, everyone will breathe a sigh of relief that the Lord took that ill suffering old lady home. ha ha
    kidding about the photo but I love the idea …maybe that IS what I shall do. a before and after shot.


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