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Location: Midwest, United States

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Reading an Obituary

I read an obituary not long ago. The facts were presented in formal, austere fashion: full name; names of parents, brothers and sisters, spouse(s), children and grandchildren. A complex web. Then there were the academic and career achievements: degrees attained and subsequent employers. Honors and achievements duly noted. Then come references to church affiliations along with community ties, volunteer activities and society memberships.

The obituary has its place and serves a purpose.

It's not enough.

It barely scratches the surface.

There’s no hint of what it all meant to the deceased, the family and community. The heart at the heart of things receives no mention.

But it’s the heart that matters most and only.

Obituary. Fail. We’re not privy to the details of the extraordinary heart now silent. We’re left wondering just how much that heart suffered and bled, swelled and rejoiced.

It's the Suffering and Joy that constitute a life.

* * *


Blogger secret agent woman said...

I remember reading my brother's obituary and thinking much the same thing. That it did not give a sense of the sorrow of those left in the death's wake. Every once in a while I read an obituary that contains quirky, personal details and although it doesn't begin to fully capture the life, it at least gives a hint that there was one. And I grieve for that stranger and the people who loved him or her.

Thu Oct 27, 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger PattiKen said...

I wonder if it's possible to capture the essence of a person in an obituary, or if it's even appropriate to try to do so. Those who love the deceased already know and understand who the person was. Those who didn't, don't need to.

Just saying.

Fri Oct 28, 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger Wine and Words said...

Hmmmm. I don't want a obituary, or a wake, or a funeral. I won't fight cancer and I don't want a place where people feel like they have to come visit when I'm not there. I suppose it's weird and quirky, but these are the expressed wishes to my family. Expensive caskets and services just aren't me. Take everyone down to the bar....shots all around. Roast me but good. I love the butt of the joke at my expense. Laugh til your sides ache at my oddities. But don't try to sum it all up in black and white in the corner of a newspaper that may line the cages of birds, or provide a training spot for puppies. It is a ridiculous effort, more so than this life ever was.

Sun Oct 30, 07:40:00 PM  
Blogger Bella said...

Amen to that!

Sat Nov 05, 08:14:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

An interesting collection of comments, thank you.

I wrote about obituaries more as a rhetorical device than any other reason. True, it was an obituary that sent me into a fugue that reminded me that what eludes me is the ability to sum a life.

Sun Nov 06, 01:02:00 AM  

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