Birthdays and Obituaries


I know a lot of people brush off their birthdays once they’re adults, but I feel like they’re even more important now. By no means am I “old”, but I’m nearing 40 and the realization that there’s a good chance that my life is half-over weighs on my mind. Of course, there’s always a chance it’s 90% over, but let’s think more positively. Maybe it’s because my daughter is thinking more about my mortality, or maybe it’s just natural to start debating my own death around this age, but whatever the cause, I’m thinking about it, but I’m still more interested in celebrating more birthdays than pondering death.

My birthday is pretty important to me, but so is yours. Your birthday is important to me because it represents your presence here, and somehow, for whatever reason, we’re connected to one another. It doesn’t matter if we’re just acqaintances, or if we’re super close: your birthday is important. Whenever I sign into Facebook, if I notice it’s someone’s birthday, I take the time to wish them a happy one. I usually try to come up with something more interesting than just, “Happy bday”, but whatever it is, I want to acknowledge these days. And I know that many times, people don’t really read these wishes, or think they’re just obligatory, but I think about each of the people I wish happiness to on their birthdays, and truly hope they have joyful days and happy, healthful years ahead. Birthdays are how we mark our lives, they’re important, and we need to celebrate them.

Deaths are also important. My husband thinks I’m a little off my rocker because I always, always read the obituaries like a small-town biddy. I read each memorial and each new obit carefully, considering the life of the person who has left the world. Deaths are important to me because they are so final, so abrupt, yet often the stories left behind for the world are just as blunt and curtailed as death itself.

Sometimes I read the tragic stories of young lives snuffed out, and sometimes heartbreaking obituaries of elderly people passing away so alone. Sometimes they’re middle-aged parents, leaving a family in upheaval, but a death is a death, and I read them all. I feel sad for the ones left behind, and curious about how people die, and how they lived. And I wonder what people will say about me when it’s my time in the obits?

Somehow I feel like I’m honouring people by silently reading their obituary. Sometimes I read the really interesting ones aloud to my family, while they think I’m completely nuts. But acknowledging life in any way is always important, isn’t it?

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2 thoughts on “Birthdays and Obituaries

  1. Oh my goodness! I read obits too. I thought I was the only one. I enjoy reading about people’s lives (I should really pick up more biographies from the library) and am always curious about how they died (especially if they passed away young).

  2. I don’t go out of my way to read obituaries, but I think they are an important way to honour a person’s life. It is nice that they are read. That’s the whole point of writing, right?

    I find them to be very sad. I really dislike reading about lives cut way too short.

    I don’t think you are nuts. I think you are kind.

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