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True Confessions from an Obit Junkie!

Alright…I must confess. I read obituary notices. Yes, I’m a daily obituary-column junkie. I know what you’re thinking…that makes me officially weird!  But, it’s part of my early morning routine, as macabre as it sounds, and I just love it!

I’ve contemplated why I’m so fascinated with obituary notices. Perhaps it’s because I’m interested to see who I know that suddenly passed away. Or maybe, I’m just curious to learn about people, where they were born, how they lived their lives, who their “people" were (that’s a Southern term, ya know?), and how they died.

I have a pet-peeve, though. Obituary notices seldom say how Momma or Granny passed away. Once in a while, an obituary notice will say that their loved one passed away after an auto accident or from a sudden illness. But most obituaries revert to the obligatory basic format: Susie Doe of Easley, SC passed on June 24. Inquiring minds want a bit more information.
To me, reading details in an obituary column sheds some light on an individual’s life. Just yesterday, I read that John served our country in the US Navy during the Vietnam War. Wow, thank you John!  Imagine the things that John experienced during his service in the Navy, or the people he met in Southeast Asia in the 1970’s. It was an unusual time in our country’s history to serve in the military. I hope he knew how much we appreciated his service.

I love reading a short summary of the individual’s accomplishments in their obituary. For example, I recently read that “Richard was Vice President” of a prestigious company before his retirement in 1980. Good for him. I’m glad he had some time after retirement to enjoy the fruits of his labor.

Some notices actually invite family and friends to not send flowers, but rather make a contribution to a local charity. BRAVO. I have my own personal experience with flowers that were sent to my Dad’s funeral. At the conclusion of my Dad’s memorial service, the funeral director asked my Mom: “what do you want to do with the nine arrangements?”  I kid you not….she said: “Throw them in the dumpster!” My sister and I did. The whole time I thought: “This is a colossal waste of money. I wish they would have made a contribution to a non-profit in Dad’s community instead.”

I guess the real reason I’m obsessed with reading obituary notices is because I realize that people’s lives matter. They lived a long life (or a short one), they were loved by many, they worked hard, they had many hobbies, they helped to make our community a better place, and they will be sorely missed. It’s truly a final summary about someone’s life, encapsulated in 200 words or less.

As an obit junkie, I want to encourage you to take a few moments to draft your own obituary notice. It gives you a chance to get the details accurate, and it’ll be a wonderful gift to give your grieving spouse and children during a difficult time.

And, consider supporting United Way of Pickens County with a final gift in your will. There are a myriad of ways that you can lend your support to our community when you pass, such as donating your car, donating a remains of your bank account, or simply by inviting your family and friends to support United Way with a memorial gift in your obituary column. Here’s a suggested phrase to consider:

“In lieu of flowers, please make a memorial gift to United Way of Pickens County, PO Box 96, Easley, SC  29641.

A thoughtful final gift is a wonderful way for you to “live on” in support of our community for generations to come. Please let me know if I can help you with this in any way.

Mark Eisengrien

Director of Planned and Major Giving