Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What I have learned about obituaries

Since I started working for the newspaper in the obituary department I have learned a few things in my time there. Most of them are horribly unhappy and are the reason I drink Mikes Harder Lemonade at night, but some of them are just...strange. And a little humorous. Now, I know most people don't really have to deal with this kind of stuff on a daily basis. But when you do and when you're trying anything not to get depressed about some of this, you laugh. So, here are some of the great things I have learned about since starting this job.

- Sometimes old women go get glamor shots taken before they pass away to use specifically for their obituary. I'm serious. There seems to be at least one a week with the woman in huge costume jewelry looking fairly unhappy to be there. I would rethink this option.

- People who work at funeral homes are mostly old and are so used to working with death that none of them can really interact with us - the living. Or so that's how it is at my paper. I have to battle with these directors on a daily basis about price, time, length, and everything else you can think of. I'm okay with them telling me I'm a moron because at least I DON'T smell like formaldehyde. Hah.

- Families will sometimes use the old military pictures of the deceased men. Oddly enough, those old school pictures of these brave men getting ready to go off to battle are pretty hot. We obituary ladies sometimes judge the men of the day on a scale of how cute they were back then. I like to think the winners are proud.

- If I'm doing the obituary of a child or a young person, I take extra time in looking over everything just so it's perfect. You can bet if you just lost your child that the obituary will be looked over by everyone in our department and perfected.

- The worst obituaries are the ones where I have to read five paragraphs about how great someone was in the community and how many awards they won. To me, personally, a paragraph about that is sufficient. Maybe even two. But if I have to read three pages of how you were a board member of every friggin company in the area, I will curse you for having left me with this crap to sort out. I want to read about YOU. About your family. The obituaries that go like this are also the obituaries that list the family members in a single paragraph with no mention of how much they loved their family.

- If you've been married before to the love of your life and she/he dies? It's probably a mistake to then list your current husband/wife as just 'the second wife' and nothing else. That totally makes them happy.

- Also, I love when people list their pets. It's awesome. They always make it extra-special. Those are some of my favorite obituaries.

- Reading obituaries all day long can give you that 'second change' feeling a lot. I mean, I have to read about these women losing their husbands, some of them really young, and it makes me appreciate who I have. When I talk to my guy - I make it meaningful. Sure, I still do some meaningless stuff, but more often now I do things that matter. I take more mental pictures than I used to. It's funny how much that kinda stuff can change ya.

There are more but it's late and I'm a bit tired. So I will save the rest for another part. I don't have a blog today to post because of how busy it has been around here. But another one will come soon. Until then, go read an obituary and get psyched for your second chance.

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