Writing an obituary for even the most celebrated of personalities after their death can be difficult business, particularly for those who have little exposure to the medium.
Throughout the history of the printed word, however, obituaries have been a long-respected tradition, calling on the attention of newspaper readers everywhere for big publications like The New York Times. In the past, it was common for people to read obituaries weekly just to learn about those who died, with great obituaries exhibiting all the best traits of biography in a condensed manner. In many instances, these even provided social insight into deaths that marked big events, or displayed the final words on a beloved celebrity.
If you’re looking at the prospect of writing up an obituary for an Adelaide funeral, or for anyone anywhere at any time, take some notes from some of the best obituaries ever written. Or, if you’d like to keep a truly interesting literary tradition going, just read them over for pure interest.
The obituary for Mr. Venezia is one of pure intrigue, honoring an extraordinary man who wrestled with his own horrible demons for a greater good.
Venezia was one of the first Jews to find himself imprisoned in Auschwitz, and went on to experience more tragedy and travesty than can be imagined. For decades he kept these experiences to himself, but by the 1990s the Italian saw an uprising in extremist doctrines and found that it was time to bring what he saw to the world with the help of a journalist.
His obituary is straight-forward, as his autobiography is, but it needs to be to make room for the dense emotional weight it carries as it describes some of his life.
Nguyen Chi Thien
This obituary describes the life of an incredible man, one of Vietnam’s – and the world’s, for that matter – most talented and powerful poets of his time.
Mr. Thien spent years in Vietnamese prison and labor camps as punishment for trying to revise Communist history in school, and in his consequent imprisonment he found himself chained constantly with no means of writing at all. So he went on to write 700 poems in his head, and then published them when he found freedom.
This one’s a bit brighter, but not for good reasons.
94-year-old Anello’s obituary gained internet fame from Tampa, Florida as her son pointed out that her daughter was a thief and her other son broke her heart. Maybe you shouldn’t take notes from this one.
The infamous traitor to America’s death achieved what might be the shortest, most intentionally stoic obituaries of all time. The claim to summarize this man’s entire life: “… notorious throughout the world.”
The Boston Massacre
In the old(e) days, obituaries were used as their own form of journalism.
The racism-inspired Boston Massacre brought the deaths of several men to light with a beautiful write-up that described their procession as “the Theatre of the inhuman Tragedy.”
The injustice these men suffered was then put onto a national pedestal, allowing the country to see the truth of their countrymen’s martyrdom and hatred.