Happy New Year:
Moving Forward Together – In Reflecting and Writing
“One thing I have desired of the Lord…
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life."
Psalm 27: 4
As we continue moving FORWARD TOGETHER, I encourage you to a time of reflection and writing in the coming days, weeks, and months ahead. Regardless of the timing you might choose, know we are in this together.
The holiday rush is behind us. The new year is upon us, and it appears we are already met with a new flurry of activity. Our congregation has experienced two unexpected deaths within the past month. Sudden death leaves a family, congregation, and the extended community grappling with sensations often too difficult to describe in words.
As the subject of death is approached, well-researched studies have highlighted differences in how one desires to die. Some prefer dying peacefully and, in their sleep, while others prefer having an abrupt ending of life. Most of us certainly want to avoid dying tragically and will do all we can to avoid risky behaviors that would cause a sudden death.
Given our days are numbered by God, no one knows when (or even how) death might occur. While reflecting on the topic of sudden death, or even death that happens from a short illness trajectory, it behooves us to begin preparing on some levels. Advanced Care Planning is a topic becoming more popular in the U.S. Writing an Obituary Ahead of Time is a suggested topic I frequently encourage individuals and families to consider long before death occurs.
The media prepare celebrity death notices well in advance. They create ‘soft files’, gathering and updating information on celebrities throughout their lives. As death occurs, this information is immediately and easily updated and shared with the world almost instantaneously following death.
TIPS FOR PREPARING AN OBITUARY IN ADVANCE:
1. Attempt to move past the discomfort of this topic. Before writing, take some time
to settle in – lighting a candle, praying, breathing/meditating or even
journaling. Scheduling quiet time around this process will be beneficial.
Separate yourself into a quiet area of your home, the library, or even outdoors
on your patio.
2. Recollect – Lifespan:
- Birth (location)
- Family or Origin - names and locations of each family member
- Schooling - lower, middle, and upper school
- College and/or Vocational Training
- Professional Life - Summarizing over time, highlighting specific positions or an overall snapshot of years worked.
- Hobbies/interests - plus anything else significant you'd like others to know about you.
- Surviving Family life - marriages, children, grandchildren, etc.
- Service Information - think about how you'd like to be memoralized; location.
- Body Disposition - think about how you'd like to be disposed; cremation, burial, columbarium, etc.
The overall writing should be a time of reflection –
remembering and recalling things from the past and
turning it into a well-written and picturesque scene.
The obituary should be stored in a safe place – electronically, in a folder or binder, or a notebook where other important documents are being stored.
3. Pictures – determine which photograph(s) you prefer sharing for a death
notice. One could even take it a step further by selecting other photos for a
memorial service or a funeral.
4. Sharing the important stories and overall narrative of one’s life is important.
5. One could even take it a step further by preparing your Memorial Service.
Being intentional about preparing for the finality of our lives is the practice of
good stewardship. The goal of leaving our beloved with less stress and less
tasks to be completed after death is helpful on many levels.
Elderly persons may be more open to sharing important details of their lives. Younger persons may not be as open to the idea initially. Gathering the important details is a good place to start. Writing and saving this information with the intent to continue adding and editing to it is always beneficial.
If you or anyone in your family are interested in writing an obituary,
and if you need assistance doing so, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
I will be happy to meet in person, schedule a Zoom call, or even visit with a
small group (Sticky group or even a Sunday School class) to provide guidance
on how to write and prepare a meaningful obituary.
Rev. Regina Franklin
Associate Minister of Congregational Care
email@example.com; 214/755-9644 Cell