Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2019

A Surefire Guide to Writing Successful Obituaries

A Surefire Guide to Writing Successful Obituaries

Photograph via Flickr by Dave Stradwick

A Surefire Guide to Writing Successful Obituaries:

General Rules

A deceased will generally pass or exit or depart this life. Useable synonyms for life are afloat, under the sun, on the face of the earth, vale, sojourn, journey.

Rather than exit life, one may enter heaven. Or: God’s heart/hands/bosom. Afterworld, other world, next world, world to come. Gates, of the pearly kind, hereafter, or The Jesus ChoirHome of the Heavenly Host—Hallelujah! Notions of bliss, rapture, and contentment are permissible, entirely. Paradise is a positive slant. Notions to avoid: the unknown, the “great” unknown, the beyond, the grave, the abode of the dead.

Deaths may be unexpected or peaceful or following lengthy illnesses and battles of the courageous sort. Deaths may be natural or tragic and senseless.

What death isn’t untimely? (In death’s world of cliché, untimely may have lost force from overuse. Skip untimely.)

If someone participated in the Normandy Invasion, or knows someone who did—mention it.

The deceased have loving personalities and traits, and will be deeply missed and forever loved.

Children may wing their ways to the arms of a loving God, and are generally thought of as too perfect to have remained on earth. (Children under the age of 12 may be referred to as lambs.)

When co-joined, ultimate and sacrifice are reserved for soldiers, cops, firefighters.

A young dead person should get credit for fitting more life into his/her limited years than others have managed to fit into their longer lives. (What harm in this inaccurate statement?—it should make everyone feel better, and stir Uncle Earl off his deadbeat ass. Maybe.)

Men are golfers, woodworkers, sailors, and fishermen. They are sports fans, ham radio operators, Elks, Moose, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Masons, and servants of GOD. Women are chefs (normally pastry), bridge players, gardeners, listeners, bursars, and readers. As a rule of thumb, ALL deceased are avid and experienced.

Useful Phrases:

until we meet again . . .
services are planned . . .
a better place . . .
had been an area resident . . .
still loved . . .
was preceded in death . . .
quietly / peacefully / naturally . . .
was a reasonably good cook . . .
of natural causes . . .
in lieu of flowers . . .
will be missed . . .
is survived by . . .

Words Used In Conjunction With Dead Women:

needle, bead, cat, crafts, jigsaw, devout/devoted, volunteer, quilt, sunflower, cross-word, genealogy, Chihuahua, eggplant.

Words Used In Conjunction With Dead Men:

sheet metal, backpack, dog, tireless/hearty, saddle, fence, Purple Heart, purple pill, travel, extended cab, ammunition, Mastiff, derrick.

Sample Obits

for him

Eloy “Ed” Romero, Jr., 86, was called to Heaven on May 29, 20XX after a courage-filled battle (with cancer) here on earth. “Ed” was born in Wagon Mound, New Mexico. “Ed” loved America and was proud to be an American. He proudly served his country in the United States Army during WWII in Africa and Europe. He married the love of his life, Barbara Ruth, in Rancho de Taos in 1954 and together they had one child, Eloy, Jr. “Ed” served 31 years in the Arroyo Seco Volunteer Fire Department, where as a community service he taught a semiannual CPR class. A dedicated member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, “Ed” was a loving husband and family man and was preceded in death by his loving wife and his beloved and loving parents. “Ed” loved bait fishing, singing, and mountain air. On a heart transplant list for fifteen years, “Ed” was, to the end of his life, an avid advocate for organ donation. “Ed” was an accomplished welder. His dream of becoming a chiropractor was realized by his granddaughter April (Ramos). “Ed” once bowled 282. A memorial service is pending.

for her

Barbara “Babs” Mortenson, 63, of Cedar Falls, formally of Cedar Rapids, passed away quietly of natural causes complicated by organ failure on April 2, 20XX. Symbolizing what it means to be a true and caring friend, she has touched the lives of everyone with her loving personality and will be deeply missed and forever loved. Known to the best of her friends as “Babs,” Barbara overcame polio and the early death of her husband, who preceded her in death. Even as the ravages of polio and stroke suppressed her mobility, Barbara continued to swim and maintained her membership at the Southside YMCA. As a teenager, she and her sister Lee (deceased) were popular singers of gospel music. In their youth, she and Lee (deceased) founded a soup kitchen that continues to this day, though it has been taken over by the Presbyterians. Barbara’s husband Frank was an Air Force officer and they were stationed in Georgia, New Jersey, South Carolina, and England, where he died. Before he died, Frank and Barbara enjoyed cruising. Barbara was an excellent pastry chef. She loved needlework, sketching, and reading as well as her cats, especially the beloved “Kittyboots,” who survives her. Frank and Barbara’s union was blessed with four children. Like their mother, three of the four girls are master quilters. Barbara was a genealogical research enthusiast who traced her family history back to 1620 in Scotland. This sparked an interest for her to study Celtic and Egyptian culture. A highlight of Barbara’s life was when, as a high school senior, she met Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, the book denouncing the pesticide DDT. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Humane Society or to the YMCA. Her sister parishioners at Holy Ghost Parish are preparing a needle tapestry depicting St Florian (Barbara’s favorite saint) to honor her. St Florian was an officer in the Roman army who made a bold confession of his Christian conversion. He was twice scourged, half-flayed alive, set on fire, and finally thrown into the river Enns with a stone around his neck. His feast day is May 4th. Funeral arrangements by Blunt Mortuary.

for them

Velcro was the best kitty in the world. I will always love her. You can see my tribute site at <http://velcro.htm> Vel, I love you.

Shug was a loving hamster full of life. He never bit anyone. He lead a long and joyful life of 2 and one half years. R.I.P.


1. Sample Useful Bad Poems:

Today is the day I wish you were here.
Yet today is the day I will not shed a tear.
Because today is the day I will not want to mourn.
For today is the day,
The day you were born.

No farewell words were spoken
No time to say goodbye
You were gone before we knew
It and only God knows why.

Our family chain is broken, and
Nothing seems the same,
But as God calls us one by one,
The chain will link again.

2. Miscellany:

A local survey reported 20XX obituary rates as follows:

1-51 words: $53.25.
51-100 words: $94.00.
101-199 words: $166.75.
200-300 words: $231.50.
301 or more words: 75¢ per word.
Photos: $12.50.
Logos and emblems: $10.00.
Pet Obituaries, starting at $25.00.

3. Commonly, obituaries must be prepaid.