How to Fabulously Write a Death Notice or Obituary
When you’re lucky enough to have a reporter in the family still alive after somebody else in the family dies, it is pretty common, I suppose, for the more closely related surviving individual to the deceased to expect the reporter in the family to compose and write an obituary . . . or what those in the newspaper business commonly call a death notice. Generally speaking, an obituary is written by a newspaper reporter at a major metropolitan paper as a public notice because the dead guy was a person of prominence in the community or maybe a celebrity, whereas a death notice is paid for by those grieving and most often related to the deceased.
To make it easy on the person assigned the task to write a death notice / obituary, it seems like a death notice template would make the job much simpler. Not only that, but the blanks should include options, a descriptive list of helpful suggestions to choose from, don’t you agree? Why, if I had to write a death notice or obituary, I guess I would start with the name of the individual and proceed like this:
CORRECT SPELLING of Name of DECEASED Person, most important that it is spelled right, died ________________ (choose options from List A)
on (date of death)
at (city location).
List A Options: peacefully and quietly, drunk in a back alley, after being shot unarmed by police, by falling out of bed, by not watching where he was walking, not of his own choosing, by shooting himself in the head, after mistaking rat poison for tea, during an episode of Seinfeld, from a courageous battle with __________________ (choose options from List B)
List B Options: cancer, his mother-in-law, what started out as a sore throat, the Russians, the enemy faction of Ingress, those little swords holding together club sandwiches, his son’s Little League manager, Edward Scissorshands, the Microsoft Word Help Forum, an HOA director, demons inside who repeatedly stabbed his guts with kitchen knives until he bled out on his front lawn.
Name of DECEASED person, again, can’t stress this enough, don’t write Gary if the guy’s name is Gerald, is survived by _____________ (choose options from List C)
List C Options: name of every relative or, since the cost to publish goes up per name, just group them by # of relatives, i.e. 211 grandchildren, aunts, uncles, cousins . . . or, if there are no related family members you can find to name, start with the neighbors: the old guy in the white house across the street who always mows his lawn at 7 am on the weekends, and his rotten kid who rides that damn motorcycle with a loud muffler, the mail carrier, Betty White, global warming, all Vietnamese immigrants, and his high school English teacher.
Services and burial
Ssshh. Don’t tell anybody where the services will be held unless you want complete strangers to show up, because believe me there are Harold and Maude advocates who will come to pay respects whom you will not know. There might also be real estate agents wondering if you need to sell that home in probate or guidance to record an affidavit of death. Just say: Private Ceremony. And nobody will know that you’re saying goodbye in your own private way by playing darts with Johnny Walker Red down at the VFW.
Donations or Condolences
Respectfully request that all cash donations be placed in a basket and left on your front steps without ringing the bell and running away like a kid who would deposit poop in a bag and light it on fire would do.
P.S. I don’t know why I am a top producer for selling homes in Sacramento instead of writing for Lorne Michaels, but the world is a strange and mysterious place.