The Obituary Project

2014-10-03 18.02.05

The Obituary Project is almost done. Most every participant has received her obituary. I say “her” because for some reason, almost no men signed up for the project. Only one. Not sure if that means anything.

Two people asked me to make stuff up. Those were fun but more daunting. How do you write an obituary for someone that they’ll like but is false? I wanted to write something that seemed possible yet fanciful, and that didn’t seem to make any statement about their actual lives.

A few people asked me to thrown in a handful of untrue things, for fun or to confuse people. One friend liked the idea of people not knowing what true.

I learned things about people. Many of the people participating I haven’t known that long or that deeply. But I heard stories about their childhood or their college years. Sometimes people who wrote stories about the participants actually said more about themselves.

I sent out questions to the participants. Most responded, but in varying degrees. Some people clearly spent a lot of time contemplating their answers.

I liked seeing who took the project seriously and got something out of it.

Of course, me being me, I worried about the responses to the results. Not everyone has told me yet, but I don’t know even they’ve even had a chance to read it yet.

Many of the participants have posted their obituary on FB. A few commenters pointed out the project was great but creepy.

I can’t really argue with that. Well, it’s how they feel about it, and I’m not going to argue feelings. If it creeps you, it creeps you out. Fair enough.

But hearing someone say how they regret unsaid things is worse. Or wondering if someone really knew how much you cared about them. All of that is worse than contemplating your mortality, which you aren’t going to avoid by not thinking about it anyway.

Why shouldn’t we think about the loss of our loved ones? Not dwell on it. Not let the fear of it immobilize us. Not tie them to us in anxiety. We know we shouldn’t take people for granted. Yet we leave things unsaid and unresolved as if that will keep them with us.

I wish my mother or someone had written down stories about her. I wish I had something to look back on with kind words about her. Instead, I’ve had to ask people, and many people I’ve asked just don’t answer. Well, she died before the Internet age. Maybe back then I would have had a Facebook feed filled with lovely comments and shared stories. Facebook as obituary. Perhaps if we thought about the digital legacy we’re leaving that way, we’d post different things?

Maybe not.

Not to be a downer.

Halloween is fun. If you’re in a Halloween-minded corner of the world, dress up. Eat sweets. Laugh or scare yourself silly.Tell your friend how great you think they are.

2 thoughts on “The Obituary Project

  1. As the brother of what I suspect is the only “guy” in the Obit project, let me say that I’m proud to be that brother – whether he has a dispute with “The Academy” or not. I do think it was a shame that he didn’t attend the awards ceremony, as The Missus would so have loved to attend the red carpet event and to have brought The Pooch. It would also have been nice for you to mention his return to his old hobbies of Archery and Chainsaw log-carving in his latter years in the mountains around Asheville. But I guess you can’t get it all in, when you’re talking about such a rich life! Thanks for getting the highlights right!

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