As the St. Louis Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks play their opening game of the 2013 season on April Fools’ Day, there is a “team” of fans who will be watching with particular nostalgia. The grown children of John George Hendel who died March 16 will no doubt be thinking of their dad, who was a fan of both teams as he was born in St. Louis but lived and died in…Continue
Added by Susan Soper on April 1, 2013 at 8:00am — No Comments
Obit writing has become so full of personal detail and anecdotal material that many of them now have at least a few lines that resonate with an image or words you might read at breakfast and find yourself repeating at lunch or around the water cooler at work.
As an avid obit reader (and writer) I like to save these gems to savor and share. Here are some that have recently crossed my radar screen. Each of them, to my eye, paints a small but telling piece of a life – some of…
So many of us could relate to her writings, musings, movies and books – not to mention a failed marriage or botched film that made her really human to her fans. When I was starting my own writing career in Washington, D.C. in the early 1970s, she was writing essays for…Continue
On Father’s Day 1996, I gave my dad a leather chair and ottoman to replace the one he had worn the leather off of – especially the arm and head rests – from hours spent reading, talking on the phone, chatting with whomever was sitting across from him having a cocktail. Yes, probably even dozing. It was meant to be the ultimate gift for his years of love, guidance, nurturing, advice, mentoring, tennis, discipline and devotion.
Two weeks later, he died very suddenly…Continue
Last year for Memorial Day, I celebrated the life of Staff Sergeant Ryan Patman Means who lost his best friend on 9/11, joined the U.S. Army, received his Green Beret and served his country in Iraq until cancer cut his life tragically short two years ago – just days after the birth of his second daughter in a hospital across the street from where he was being treated for bile duct…Continue
Added by Susan Soper on May 27, 2012 at 8:41pm — No Comments
I’ve been noticing more pets being mentioned among the survivors in recent obituaries and have also become aware that some papers (most of them in small towns) are running pet obituaries among their paid obituary notices. In their how-to templates they offer guidelines for what to include in an obituary for an animal friend: cause of death, favorite memories, where to send condolences, who to list among survivors (including blood relatives).
There are also many…Continue
Added by Susan Soper on May 18, 2012 at 12:00pm — No Comments
As Mother’s Day approaches, there are lots of children, mothers, sisters, spouses who are missing a woman who meant everything to them. Everything. In many cases, their obituaries probably did not reflect enough about them – their core being – to really illustrate the impact of their lives or the voids they left.
Unfortunately, as the cycle of life proves over and over, there are also…
Added by Susan Soper on May 10, 2012 at 10:00am — No Comments
Gertrude Murrell DuPont Howland doesn’t want to leave anything to chance. Especially not at this stage of her life. She’ll be 102 in July.
The Richmond native was a dutiful wife and mother until she divorced and became an archaeologist in her 60s, traveling to digs all over the world: from Afghanistan and Turkey to Italy, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. She traversed the Khyber Pass and went to Hong Kong.
Her second husband, now deceased, was happy to…Continue
I recently wrote an obituary for a man who died suddenly and too soon. I didn’t know him – he was a friend of a friend – but because I am a writer and am immersed in all things obituaries, I am sometimes called on to pitch in for families and friends. In this case, my friend asked me to write the obituary because she wanted to give it to the grieving family as a “gift” – relieving them of as much of the decision-making, fact-checking, detail-gathering chores as possible at a time…Continue
It’s becoming more common for people to get involved in their own obituaries, but it happens in varying degrees. I once wrote an obit for an elderly doctor who had Parkinson’s; he hired me to collaborate with him to make sure every detail in his accomplished life was correct before the time came. His stories and accomplishments were told in the traditional third person. He didn’t die…Continue
Added by Susan Soper on October 26, 2011 at 10:00am — No Comments
My mother’s birthday was July 25. She would have been 87, hard for me to even imagine as she died at age 45 in 1968 – 42 years ago. A whole lifetime ago. So many culture changes ago. So many upheavals ago – none of them, however, as devastating as losing a mother at a young age.
As my avocation is reading and writing obituaries, wanting to always know more about what makes people tick – even when they are no longer ticking – I’ve been thinking about how her…
When I recently congratulated a good friend on becoming a certified Pilates coach, she perked up and answered right back, “Now I have a new item for my obit!”
Never mind that she has had a long and successful career as a real estate agent, is the mother of two, grandmother of four and a widely traveled, sophisticated beauty.
Pilates? This is important! She worked hard to qualify for this certification – going through 600 hours of grueling precision training…
Like people, obituaries come in many shapes and sizes: long or short, elegant or homely, glorified or humble. In newspapers and online, they come in just two forms: the editorial obits written by a writer on the newspaper staff or the paid notices submitted by funeral homes and crematoriums, often compiled by a family member or friend.
I’ve written many of both kinds – dozens as an impartial journalist, several as a devoted friend, and one as a heartbroken, loving…
Ever since I had to write my dad’s obituary in the middle of the night with no resources at hand, I’ve been an inveterate and appreciative consumer of obits. I read them in newspapers, in magazines, online and even in books (see 52 McGs: The Best Obituaries from Legendary New York Times Reporter Robert McG. Thomas, an incredibly creative compilation of posthumous profiles). I clip them, email them, excerpt them and, always, learn from them. Sadly, I often discover amazing…Continue
Is awareness of all things death-related a perception thing? That once you’ve lost someone, you become more aware of the buzz around you about death and grieving? Or is it that, as part of the aging process, we are all more accepting of our mortality and others’ too? Or could it be that as we age and lose loved ones, we are all just plain paying more attention to the topic – and talking about it more?
A recent spate of death-related stories in the media – all this month – leads me…