Testing the Waters

So, here’s the thing. My brother visited this weekend and brought an obituary with him he’d cut out of his local paper. It was beautifully written about an amazing woman, her incredible life, and her abiding love for her beloved husband. It made you want to cry. And, no, none of us knew this woman.

Bringing obituaries is nothing unusual for my brother. In fact, he sends them to me in the mail. But this morning at breakfast, my husband, sister-in-law, and I sat in stunned silence after reading the tribute, so powerfully recorded, of this woman.

“You could write a book of obituaries,” my husband said to my brother. We all chuckled. Who would buy a book of obituaries of people they didn’t personally know and had never even heard of? Who reads obituaries anyway? Besides my brother, I mean.

And then I started thinking. Many old people probably read them, of course. But what about people who have to write obituaries and are having trouble coming up with one worthy of the deceased? Maybe an obit book could be profitable. I mean, I wanted to clip parts of that obituary my brother brought and put it in a file for future use.

So here’s my question: Would you buy a book of obituaries of not-famous people? I just want to get a “show of hands,” so to speak, before I begin the intro to my manuscript.

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About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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10 Responses to Testing the Waters

  1. Hmmm….that’s an interesting concept. If they were interesting enough, some folks would read it. But like you, I don’t think the copyright issues and getting family approvals would be worth the hassle.

  2. I think I would, it is always interesting to see what people say about a loved one. since we live away from our hometown, I often go to the listing of obituaries for our city and read since we don’t often hear about deaths in our hometown, and just to check on people you might have known in childhood, or those distant family members you have lost track of. Interesting post, if you are serious about this, let me know!

  3. Margy says:

    Writing an interesting obituary is hard! I think it would be fascinating to read well-written, interesting ones. Are obituaries protected by copyright?

    • Coming East says:

      That’s an interesting question. I believe they would be, and I wouldn’t want to contact the remaining family for permission to reprint, though some of them may actually like that more people would read about their loved one.

  4. It is an interesting concept. I guess it depends on the obits. I’ve read some that I have shared with friends on FB because they had a unique perspective and made me laugh, or said something I always wanted to say and censored myself.

    • Coming East says:

      I think young people would find this morbid, but it’s rather nice to read and appreciate obituaries because they can illuminate and celebrate the lives of some very interesting people.

  5. Oh my word. Now that is an interesting thought. Rick and I bought The Cemeteries of Austin County, simply.because there is so much history where we live.I would think it fascinating and probably leave a mark on our decadent civilization. Might make people a bit more mindful of how they lead their lives.
    That said, I’m presently reading Old 300-Gone to Texas, which chronicles the history of Stephen F. Austin’s colonists. It certainly is a volume of obituaries.

    • Coming East says:

      Sounds like a great book. I miss that part of the country. I like reading old gravestones when they have more than just names on them. My great-grandmother’s headstone, next to my great-grandfather’s, says, “She’s done what she could.” I wonder if that means she did the best she could with her husband.

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