12 responses to “Life Lessons from the Newtown Obituaries”

  1. Monday’s Link Roundup. | Dan Curtis ~ Professional Personal Historian

    [...] Life Lessons from the Newtown Obituaries. “For adults, obits are about what they did. But for children, they’re about who they were. It’s about their spirit, that nebulous thing we sense when we’re around people we love and enjoy. As a result, the obituaries for the children of Newtown could end up less of a reminder of how they died than a lesson on how to live… I’m asking my fellow adults to reconsider how you’d like to be remembered, and then start living that way in small ways, every day. Live so that your obituary reads less like a résumé and more like a tribute to someone who will be dearly missed.” [Thanks to Pat McNees of Writers and Editors for alerting me to this item.] [...]

  2. Aviva Goldfarb

    Jen, I’m crying, that was so beautiful and so true. But the saddest part is that their need to be so many obits for 6 year olds at all. Heartbreaking.

  3. Kathy

    Beautiful post. Thank you. There will be no silent cake eating at my funeral either, if I can help it. I appreciate the distinction you make between what they did and who they were.

  4. Van Waffle

    I agree. After my mom died of breast cancer I didn’t want a mournful funeral, and fortunately neither did my dad. I was so relieved she had died suddenly and peacefully just as her health was starting to seriously decline. She had told me cancer taught her the value of a day, and I like to think of her enjoying her last summer rather than succombing to fear and regret. Mom would have hated to be helpless and undignified. Cancer spared her that. She was not in pain and never had to spend a night in hospital.

    I think most of the family felt the same relief and gratitude about the way she died. But one of my mom’s sisters to whom she was closest was beside herself on the day of memorial. She could not let go so easily. At the time, I was bewildered by her bizarre behaviour.

    It is profoundly true that everyone grieves differently. It is hard to be open and accepting of those differences. We can only do our best. Funerals are more for the living than the dead. What I needed to do on the day of her memorial was be grateful and read her favourite poem, Wordsworth’s Daffodils.

  5. Audrey Vernick

    Bravo. I have never thought about my funeral. But years ago, my father, who is thankfully alive and well, made it clear that he wants a funeral like the one you want. His most memorable request: Please make sure there’s an ice cream truck.

    It’s worth thinking about. Thanks for the push.

  6. Lyn

    I love your thoughts and ideas. I don’t care if people know where I went to school or where I worked or where I volunteered. I remember long ago someone asking if I could only say I was one thing what would it be. Well, I’d want people to say, “She was really nice and gave great hugs.” So, I try and live up to that daily and hope my obit doesn’t have to be full of hot air and historical data, just NICE.

  7. arden greenspan

    Jen you just have such a way of bringing the message home to my heart. How do we want to be remembered? I’m with you. I’ve been to a number of funerals and the best was about specific qualities and loves and passions that set the person apart.
    Reading through the memorials of each and every person in Newtown, the children and adults I was struck with a sadness and an appreciation for each and every one. The children especially came alive in their parents vivid descriptions.
    I am on the list of psychotherapists who specialize in working with trauma survivors and hope to get to know some of the Newton children and families better and offer my healing energy and heartfelt listening power.
    Thank you for your wonderful, thoughtful and so Jen heartfelt impressions.

  8. Kathy Sena

    Jen, I’m putting this in my “Kathy’s funeral” file for my family — and I plan to share it far and wide, too. I’ve already requested purple helium balloons and James Taylor music for my funeral, but I love how this does those ideas one better in so many ways. I don’t want to see a resume at the end of a loved one’s life. I want to know what little things made them special. Bless you for writing this.

  9. mike heikkuri

    great story…

  10. Anjali

    What a beautiful post, and a great way to memorialize someone! It’s the sweet & silly things that really make a person special.

  11. Denise

    Beautiful, Jen. We should all sing at the top of our lungs, like little James. In fact, I often do (to the burgeoning embarrassment of my sons, especially when I try to out-Alicia-Keys Alicia Keys on “Girl on Fire.” But now when I do it, I think of little James, who’ll never sing on a stage at any age.

  12. Mell

    Excellent points! To let those who read an obituary feel that they are learning about a person, not reading a resumė is so much more meaningful. Smile through the tears, remember the happy times. To be able to laugh, have happy memories at a funeral should not be taboo. Of course we also need to allow those silly pictures to be taken of us and not delete them, to stop feeling so self conscious and be willing to let go and have fun like we did as children so those stories exist to be told when we die. Working on that one myself. Let go and live life, because we never know how long we have.

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