A Life in 200 Words

This post is my response to Jenny Matlock’s Alphabet Thursday challenge for the letter “O”.


You might already have guessed that my word for today’s challenge is “obituary.


My inspiration for this post came from a segment on the CBS Sunday Morning show last October discussing how newspaper obituaries were once reserved for only the most prominent of citizens. That is still the case for most big city newspapers, but smaller newspapers do usually print obituaries for local residents. Then, back in March after Elizabeth Taylor died, CNN ran a feature about obituaries for the rich and famous (and infamous) focusing, in particular, on the fact that celebrities’ obituaries are usually pre-written, long before they die. In Taylor’s case, the principal writer died several years before she did (though updating authors were also credited).


On one hand, I’m glad I’m not prominent enough for anyone to contemplate (for even a second) pre-writing my obituary but, on the other, I’m enough of a control freak that I’m considering drafting my own “200 words” rather than leaving that task to my (hopefully) grief-stricken family and friends.


The CBS article focused on short phrases that somehow summarize a person’s life. What was he or she passionate about?  What will family and friends remember forever? Which recollections and anecdotes are most memorable?


I like to think of myself as 59 years young, and I hope I have many long, healthy, and interesting years ahead of me, but I must also acknowledge that I could be gone tomorrow—a victim of an accident, illness, or tragedy. So, occasionally, usually prompted by the death of a famous or not-so-famous contemporary, I am compelled to ponder the contents of my own obituary, the 200 or so words that will somehow summarize my life on this earth. At this point it is only a mental draft, but it is high on my to-do list if only because I want to have significant input into my last 200 words.

13 thoughts on “A Life in 200 Words

  1. WoW! Every time I read an Alphabe-Thursday post, I discover something new. I had no idea celebrities or anyone for that matter had their obituaries pre-written. I guess it makes sense, but it does kind of creep me out.

    An interesting post indeed.

    Mine’s here:
    On This Orange-Hued day

  2. What a thought-provoking and oustanding link you have shared here.

    This really made me think.


    Having lost quite a few close friends and family members and done the obituaries and eulogies for all of them, maybe I do need to give this additional thought.

    Thank you for a wonderful link.


  3. Like Cheryl…I also thought you were posting your draft :o) And like JDaniel4’s Mom, I would love “…exciting (blessed and memorable) things to continue happening until the very end.” It would be a wonderful way to think of what we have done and what we still hope to accomplish…

    Blessings & Aloha!
    And thank you so much for your lovely visit and your kind comment :o)

  4. I have sometimes done this on courses – as a way of focussing on just what we want our lives to be about in the future, rather than what they have been in the past. Can be a great clarifier of where our values and dreams are! Good luck with the 200 words …

  5. We are close to the same age and I’ve often thought about writing something and giving it to my son for him to use or not as he sees fit.

    It’s sobering to think about not being here to take care of my family….

    I’ve had some losses and written a few obituaries in the past several years and it is difficult to do when you are grieving….

  6. I took journalism in high school and one of our assignments was to write our obituary. There isn’t much to report when you are only 16.

    • It never occurred to me that they wouldn’t use it, inertia being what it is, so I guess I’ll also have to include a threat to come back and haunt them if they don’t!

  7. Some years back I wrote directions to my family on the kind of funeral I wanted. At the time I had a fear of flying and I was leaving on a trip. I’m over the fear, but the envelope with the directions still sits on my dresser. I never thought about writing my own obituary though. You’ve given me something to think about.

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