I was doing some office paperwork cleaning when I came across something I must have clipped from a newspaper 4 years ago with good intentions to share with all of you. Well, you know where good intentions go sometimes. Nowhere!
I thought what I clipped was important to share with all of you. Even if it is 4 years later, I think the lesson and message to share are as important now as they were then.
Over the last few years I have seen a tendency to read obituaries that are rather long in length compared to the ones we often discover in our research quests about our own ancestors. Those obituaries from the 1950s and earlier tended to be short, sweet and to the point. Just give me the facts, ma’m , as they relate to the wake, the church and the burial!
That poor soul that was laid to rest did not seem to give any meaningful information to be presented in the obituary about themselves or their own life. Maybe they did and family members knew about the person’s life but the process of presenting that information in an obituary just wasn’t the place to do it back in those days. Consequently, in our own research of these ancestors, we are not really discovering much information that gives us insights into their life. Who were they? Where did they go to school? What did they do for a living? What organizations did they belong to? What were their hobbies? As a researcher, wouldn’t you like to know more than just the location of the wake, the time for visitation and the cemetery for burial?
Luckily, it seems like the opportunity is there more today than it has ever been to put together a “mini” biography to publish in a death notice. Sometimes, the more famous get a small biography printed in the local paper when someone of note passes away. Well, if you are not famous by newspaper standards, it looks more promising than ever that you can share a “mini” biography of yourself via your own death notice that you have put together in advance of your death. Who better to tell the story about you than you!
The key to this “mini” biography is that you have to acknowledge that death is inevitable for all of us. Many of us tend to think that somehow it is always the other person that will die and that somehow we are invincible. I hate to break the news to you about this inevitability.
Accept our fate in life as being death. That opens up a wonderful opportunity for us to construct the story of each of us by creating our own death notice now before the effort falls onto a husband, wife, child, sibling or someone who just simply does not anything about you.
I think our lives are worth more than just a published time for a wake, a published time for a religious service and a notice of the cemetery you will now reside in going forward! (Or you may reside in that proverbial urn on a fireplace mantel!)
But you have to make that story happen now by putting your words on paper of who you have been for the time you have spent on this earth. Get those words over to a trusted representative of yourself that can get that pre-written death notice into the timely publication process to let the world know just exactly who you were for the years that you spent on this planet when that time comes to publish.
The piece of paper I wanted to share with you was a death notice from the Chicago Sun-Times from 2008. It was for a person I did not know. However, this massive death notice certainly made me feel that I knew this person for my entire life after I had read the notice. It is lengthy but you might consider using something like this as a template to construct your own death notice.
Take a look at the death notice at the following link. It was so long on newsprint that I had to reduce it in size in order to get the full copy onto one piece of paper. In the PDF document you can increase the per cent size of the document to make it more easily readable. You can find it at:
As a researcher today, wouldn’t you like to uncover a death notice like this today about your own ancestors you are researching? I think the answer is a definite “yes”. You have the chance today to leave something similar to the one above for your own descendants to discover about you in 100 years.
Take the time now to put your “mini” biography together today.
Make a researcher of the future happy that he has discovered you and more importantly he has discovered your life!
Schaumburg Township District Library