If you want to pen your own obituary, one route is to look for workshops offered by your local senior college, senior center or adult education program.

If nothing is available, Maine chaplain Jean Berman suggests writing with friends at a “death dinner party.” Friends can act as your contributors and editors.

Reading some examples in the newspaper and taking note of what details move you will help you get started in crafting your own life’s story, she said.

While it’s good to include where and when you were born, to whom, a bit about your childhood, your education, career and family, don’t forget that simple, everyday details about your life and observations will bring that personal touch to your obituary.

For instance: “He was fanatic about not missing Sunday Patriot games.” Or: “She was very proud of her baking skills.” Or: “He loved hiking in the White Mountains.”

Let your personality come through: “I’m leaving behind a garage full of tools. Good luck cleaning that out kids!” Or: “She ate ridiculous amounts of popcorn.” Or: “Her face always lit up when she saw a dog.”


Self-made humor targeting your personality traits can help turn survivors’ tears into smiles. “She leaves behind so many boxes of photo albums, kids’ drawings and greeting cards, if the house catches fire it will never go out.”

Reporter Ken Fuson, 63, died in Nebraska in 2020. He wrote his obituary, which was published in the Des Moines Register. In his words: “Ken Fuson, born June 23, 1956, died Jan. 3, 2020 at Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha of liver cirrhosis and is stunned to learn that the world is somehow able to go on without him.”

His obituary offered plenty more humor, including: “In lieu of flowers, Ken asks everyone to wear black armbands and wail in public during a one-year grieving period.”

When former University of Southern Maine theater professor Minor Rootes died in 2017, his self-written obit served, according to a Portland Press Herald story about the obit, to thank many people, from family to his students. In his words: “They have really been the ones who have educated me.”

He thanked Mercy Hospital doctors and nurses for “keeping me alive an extra decade.” And he noted that during his 86 years of life, “I look back with few regrets, though I know I have some forgotten apologies to bestow on people I have slighted. Please accept.”

Geoffrey Turner of New York wrote his obit before he died in 2019 to tell other smokers to quit before it’s too late.

“I was a smoker and even though I knew it may eventually kill me, I chose to deny the truth. The pain and suffering I caused my family was not worth ‘the satisfaction’ that did nothing more than waste money, separate me from my family, and eventually destroyed my body.”

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