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What should your obit reveal?

Jerry Bellune

By Jerry Bellune

 

My Seton Hall University reporting students’ 1st writing exercise was simple:
Write a 250-word obituary you would want read at your funeral.
Bear in mind that it will appear in the local newspaper, too.
Your loved ones will read it and smile.
“He (or she) was sui generis,” they will say.

If you don’t know what sui generis means, look it up.
None of my students had the audacity of Thomas Mathews.
His sui generis obit was submitted by a funeral home to our local daily:
It prompted my wife to ask, “Why don’t we get obits like this for our newspaper?”

Thomas A. Mathews, 51, passed away on Tuesday, Mar. 19, 2019, from total heartbreak due to a severe case of Dallas Cowboys Fan Syndrome.
Thomas was born July 6, 1967, in Washington and traveled around the world throughout his childhood while his father served this great country.
He settled down in South Carolina where he worked as a Corrections Officer at multiple prisons around the state.
He worked part-time as a bartender while competing in local billiard leagues and enjoyed the misery his Dallas Cowboys brought him on Sundays.

Mathews’ obituary inspired me to write this.
I asked my wife to use it when I pass on to that great newsroom in the sky.

Much-feared newspaper editor dies.
After he lost his hair, many elected officials wondered where Jerry Bellune hid his horns.
Utility executives, corrupt politicians and other miscreants wondered the same thing.
Two of his life’s great tragedies were being a Carolina Gamecocks and Philadelphia Eagles fan.

No sentences longer than 15 words. Short and to the point.

Here’s this month’s challenge for you:

Write your own obituary.
Show you have a sense of humor.
Make it light.
Give your readers a laugh or 2 among the otherwise grim data about your life.
Send me a copy and I will share it with others.
All of us could use a good laugh in these politically-dark days.
If yours makes me laugh, I’ll send you a complimentary copy of my new book.
It’s called “The Little Red Book of Compelling Writing.”
It has a few laughs in it, too.