I want to gather information for my parents' obituaries while they are still with me. Has anyone else done this?

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My uncle just died and his obituary was a well written summary of his life and legacy. The obituary itself said he left memoirs and I am sure that helped his family. My mom & dad are both 87 so I want to be prepared for when the time comes. It seems that writing the obituary would be a hard task to do right after death, has anyone else began writing the obituary before death? And what are some clever ways I can get them to give me information? I really don't want to tell them what I am doing. Just wanted to ask the community their experiences. Thanks!

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Try disguising it as family tree research. The conversation can then diverge into what they got up to as individuals, as well.

You will need to rough out at least a basic family tree. Otherwise you might find them looking at you narrowly, not taken in for a moment!
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Reply to Countrymouse
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Yes--I wrote my father's and my mother was still living, but she liked my style of writing and so I got to do it for him.

During the time I spent caregiving for him, I talked to him a lot. I would write down things he said that I wanted to remember, and it turned out that this really helped me to write the obit.

After the basics--parents, family names, etc, you'll want to write something that is an homage of sorts to the person. I was able to write that daddy was a very hard worker, loved his family and his religion, and had taught all 6 of us values that served us our whole lives. A few very short comments on his amazing life and influences and that was it.

Obituaries are VERY expensive. Mother balked a little at the cost, but in the end, knew that many old friends would want to read and remember him.

Talking to your LO and writing down, in advance essentially a "rough draft" of the things you want to have said NOW, before they pass will help you to get an obit written that will stand as a tribute. Make sure you have dates, places, names of people who would be mentioned in an obit. This can be done by simply talking to your LO about their lives. Unless you never talked to your folks or lived in a cave, you probably DO already "know" what you want to say. Having the obit "pre written" will be so much easier than if you suddenly are faced with the daunting prospect of writing one.
I can't imagine your folks not wanting to share information. Most elderly folks can't get enough attention and talking to someone who'll listen!
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Reply to Midkid58
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You might be right, cwillie! I didn't even think of that. I do talk to them a lot and they tell me things that sometimes I don't remember. Dad loves to reminisce and mom does too on her good days. She suffers from dementia. I don't want to write long obituaries, but I want to have the correct information in them, so I don't have to do the research right after they pass away. For example Dad was in Japan in the Korean War, but not sure of where he was stationed and the dates. I would like to include that because he served our country and that was an important part of his life.
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Reply to SueJord159
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My parents/relatives were on the other side of the coin. Hardly any of them had obituaries placed in newspapers. One, they believed all their friends/relatives already knew they had just passed, so why have strangers read about them.

Plus there are "obituary scams". These scammers will claim they have important information of the love one who had passed, and will ask for money so that the info will be sent to the widow or widower, or their grown children. Or claim that the love one had owed them money.

Scammers will claim to be from the VA [if the obit has military service mentioned] saying they have an expired life insurance policy, thus if the widow or grown children send a certain amount of money, this life insurance policy can be available to them.

Crooks also use obituaries to plan robberies while the family is at a service. So if you do want to have an obituary in print, do it AFTER the date of service.

Be careful what you write on Facebook.

https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2018/scams-using-obituaries.html

I am doing a major family tree, and I found that obituaries didn't offer me any more information then what I had found already generated on Ancestry.com.
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Reply to freqflyer
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A few years before our parents passed, my eldest sister and I took our parents away to a seaside resort town a few hour from our home, and we had (in advance), written out a bunch of questions about their lives, immigrating to America, their childhood day's, growing up in the UK during WW2, their courtship, my Dad following my Mom and family to America, their Wedding Day, buying their first home, employment, having and raising 6 kids, the Grandkids, retirement, vacations and trips, and a bit about their unfortunate illnesses that ultimately took their lives, etc.

We brought along a tape recorder to tape their answers during the car ride, it was fun, and of course we knew many of their stories, but it did come in handy for dates and such. It's especially nice now, bringing out that old cassette tape, hearing their voices and listening to their stories!

We kept our Obits short, but had very extensive Eulogies for both of them, as with 6 kids and many Grandkids, their are a lot of memories! And Yes, even 14 and 15 years ago, Obituaries are so very expensive!
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Reply to staceyb
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My husband and I both wrote our own obituaries. I needed to update my husband's a bit when he died, but it was good to have a starting point!
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Reply to jeannegibbs
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I think its smart to prepare a little in advance. I hadn't done that, so when my dad passed it was something I spent a lot of time trying to get it "right". And trying to get my dates correct. Army dates, metals, marriage date, employment/retirement dates etc.
plus like someone said it was kinda expensive, even as small/average sized obit. I found myself cutting out as much as I could and staying within a certain letter count.

plus trying to locate the "right" picture I wanted in the paper.

im not very good at writing something that sounds "nice" I have to read other obituaries for ideas on how to express myself. (hope that doesn't sound bad. but some obits have such a nice feel to them)
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Reply to wally003
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My mom's straightforward obit has been completed and on my computer for several years. At 98+ I'm really not too concerned about writing a eulogy, people who haven't cared enough to learn about her life by now won't be getting a history lesson during her funeral.
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Reply to cwillie
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My mother wrote her own. Unlike most people, she wanted bare bones. And that is exactly what she wrote. No stories, very little information. She said she was survived but three children (gave our first names only), three sisters (first names only), three grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren (no names for them). She gave me a copy and left a copy with the funeral home at the time she paid for her funeral. She also stated no music, no photos, no video. I made sure her wishes were honored even though there were some pi——d off people.
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Reply to anonymous439773
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Sue, I just did an obit and gave the eulogy at my mom’s memorial. I have posted about it on another thread.

I started talking to my mom and dad a couple years ago. Not interviewing and taking notes but just asking about the old days. They loved telling their stories and I learned much more about our family history.

Later after mom died and Dad was in care I spent time going through old pictures and the obit and ulogy started taking shape in my head. I also had some help from my nephew who’s a good writer.

It came together very nicely. The obit and the service were brief but covered Mom’s life and times pretty well.

I’m not sure how many people actually read those long obits you see families do. And that’s big bucks.
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Reply to Windyridge
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