Your Personal History and Legacy
What do you want people to remember about you? Are you a private person, preferring to express your feelings in letters to a few close friends and family members? Or do you want to write your complete autobiography and have it published? Did you know that some people choose to write their own obituaries?
It's a good idea to assemble your personal history, whether for a simple fill-in-the-blanks obituary or for anyone interested in your life and legacy. After your passing, your loved ones will likely be glad to learn more about you. If you're famous or have led a colorful life, you might even be the topic of news articles or a biography.
If you plan to write your memoirs, collect the materials and begin drafting your story sooner than later. If something happens and you die sooner than expected, being organized will make it easier for someone else to continue your project.
If you'd like to save your survivors the trouble of rounding up details, here are some of the things you might want to note for including in a detailed obituary:
- Any titles by which you'd like to be known, such as Doctor, as well as nicknames and how you'd like to be listed in funeral documents and newspapers and other media.
- Names of parents, siblings, children, and other close relatives. (This is also an opportunity to express whether you'd like ex-spouses or estranged family members included in the obituary and ideally avoid squabbles after your death.)
- Places lived.
- Educational milestones (such as degrees and honors).
- Jobs and positions held. Include volunteer work and causes you care about.
- Skills, talents, or other qualities for which you hope to be known.
- Preferences for donations in lieu of flowers, such as organizations relating to a cause or disease.
- It's not a bad idea to list a few things that you do not want mentioned as part of your obituary or legacy, especially if you are a private person.
- You might also want to pick a photo for your newspaper, online obituary, and/or funeral program.