essays

Deathwatch? Got Better Things to Do

gravesFor the longest time, my only interest in obituaries was how in the hell those people always die in alphabetical order. The companion joke is attributed to George Burns. He said "When I get up in the morning the first thing I do is read the obituaries. If my name's not in there, I shave."

After age 50 or 60, obituaries are no longer the butt of jokes, but rather a perverse obsession with how many people who are dying are younger than yourself. Who thinks about their mortality when they think they are invincible?

Michael Winerip, author of the New York Times Generation B column recently wrote how nervous the obits were making him as he noted a rash of deaths in the age 50 cohort (some even younger!). With a history of heart disease in his family, he decides it’s time to become more proactive.

For the rest of us, every little ailment is the one that could bring us down. Sure, men and women are living longer, but a casual review of the obits reveals that a substantial number are not making it to the 70 or 80 mark. If age 50 is the halfway point, you can take the position (as we do here at BoomSpeak) that your whole life’s in front of you (or a good half anyway). Get out there and do things, eat better, exercise, live well and live longer. Conversely, you can adopt the attitude that it’s all down hill from hegravestonesre. If the big C doesn’t get you it will be H1N1 or an infected hangnail. So you might as well push back on the recliner and wait for the end to come. Grab your laptop and visit ObitKit.com. According to their homepage,

ObitKit allows you to personalize the obituary process while creating a written legacy to leave family and friends. It is a creative and upbeat way to leave a guide for loved ones so they can carry out your final wishes. ObitKit is a workbook that can be filled out alone or with a spouse, partner or even a book club. It’s a fun way to see how far you’ve come – with a hint of where you’re going and how you want to get there.

So there’s one less thing to worry about. Am I getting an ObitKit? Don’t think so. I’ve got better things to do than waiting for death.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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