October is Family History Month and leads us into a very popular area Genealogy. Do you remember the song ‘Ding Dong the Witch is Dead’ this is not my words but those of (www.stlyrics.com › T › The Wizard Of Oz) sung by Munchkins and not very flattering. A portion of this article is about obituaries, for information, education and dissertations and a portion is about setting the record straight. Has anyone noticed the change in the way we approach the written notification of our death. However we have changed over the last fifty years to a whole new written commentary of our life. The beginning was a short article with our name in bold and possibly five inches of worthy commentary of our passing, our family members and where the services were and usually the burial or placed in a niche, or possibly on a mantle. Then we begin adding a small picture, less about services – if there was any – (mostly because a few in our population took the time and date to mean, ‘come on in take our valuables, we will be out at the service and cemetery’. This has evolved to our pictures seem to show us in a much younger age and began dropping off the names of any family members passed our children or grandchildren. Today, possibly due to the charge for memorializing one in a newspaper, we are seeing less and less information, regarding a life well lived and more and more very basic information. “John passed quietly on October 1 with family at his bedside. He will be missed by many and was active until his passing due to cancer”. Nowhere is there mention of his family, his journey through this life or what he leaves for others to appreciate and learn from.
When we see or hear of a person that has passed, have we (those living) done all we can do to honor this person. Will later relatives or interested individuals be able to follow a paper trail of this person’s life or will the information be provided in the two lines? Obituaries can and should give reference to a person’s life. These documents are in a large part the information provided to persons tracking their family roots. This is not just the informational material to be found on one person’s attempt, it is information used to track medical research (www.Alzheimersociety.org) and lineage for legal and financial reasons.
Perhaps the shortest road to the most accurate and conclusive obituary is to write our own. This is becoming more and more of the process evolving (www.ngsgenealogy.org). And who better to tell our story than us, this does not need to be sad or nothing but statistics; rather we can say what we want. After all who will argue with us at that particular time. And we must be sure the family or executor of the estate knows we have written this and money has been set aside to publish such an obituary, if necessary. This can be our final say about the world we leave for future generations.