Writing Assignment: Write Your Obituary

by Randy Murray on February 14, 2014

Do you want the last word? I mean the really last word. If so, you’ll need to write your own obituary.

This needn’t be maudlin. It can be fun and satisfying. “I told you I was sick,” has a nice bite to it. But that’s better as an inscription on a tombstone. An obituary should be factual.

I’ve already given two funerary Writing Assignments. You can plan your own funeral and write a eulogy (not specifically your own). This is a chance for you to condense your life to the bare biographical details.

News organizations keep files with pre-written obituaries for a long list of public figures. They have all of the basics in place, making it easy to add on the final details and publish quickly. It might be helpful for you to do the same thing for yourself.

For today’s assignment, write your own obituary. A good obituary is an outline of a life. It should list the dates of your birth and death (make it yesterday for this assignment), the key connections, like children, parents, and significant others. And it should contain the what of your life, not necessarily the why. What did you do? What did you spend your time on? What did you care about?

What did you die of? I recommend the popular, “hit by a bus.”

There should be no room in your draft obit for mourning, for undue praise, or for regret. Just write down the facts. If you choose to do something after completing this assignment that is obituary-worthy that’s up to you.

As a test I wrote my own, but I won’t include it here. For me it was a stark reminder that I have things to do. It might be the ultimate productivity prompt.

Today just write a simple and factual accounting of your life. There may not be much to say. That’s OK. When you’re done writing your obit go out and do something worthy to add to it.

 

Writing Assignment: Write Your Obituary by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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