She regretted only that she had not consumed enough champagne.

22 Jan

birthdayI admit it. I habitually peruse the obituaries in the Times Colonist. It’s not a fascination with death that draws me to them, but rather a fascination with life: the life of the person who has died.

There’s a predictable formula at work in the writing. She died after a courageous battle, surrounded by loved ones. She is survived by the following family members, lovingly remembered by all. Her life was varied and interesting. She worked in this industry, was a lifelong member of these organizations, touched the lives of many through her acts of generosity. In lieu of flowers etc.

I don’t want to appear disrespectful, because I am genuinely interested in lives lived. The problem I have is that I know absolutely nothing about this woman because she is virtually inseparable from all the other women whose obits appear in the same pages. But was she the same? Of course she wasn’t. She was manifestly unique, as are we all. So why the sameness? Doesn’t such uniformity go against the obit’s primary purpose: To find the spirit of the deceased person and communicate it to others who knew her – or didn’t?

I conclude that problem is twofold: First the obit writer defaults to the traditional way of writing these things out of respect and fear; second that the obit writer just tries to say too much, through emotional attachment to the deceased. Can a 90-year life be realistically encapsulated in half a dozen paragraphs? Very unlikely. But we’re going to try!

Rather than try to sum up everything, the deceased might be better served through an illustration of something truly remarkable – an episode perhaps, or a memory – that tells us THIS was a woman to be reckoned with; a woman you would certainly have wanted to have known; possibly a woman you would have enjoyed partying with.

One compelling thing, told with conviction.

Find any parallels for advertising your product or service in that?

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