First, you should know that my husband and I are weird, for people in our early 30's. We get the (print) newspaper every day, and every day we both read it front to back. I even protested recently when the paper removed two of my favorite comic strips. We love our newspapers.
Part of my morning habit is reading the obituaries. I typically read all of them - even the short, 1.5 paragraph "standard" obituaries. I suspect this is another legacy from my mother - who also reads the entire paper front to back, every day. [She also reads the issues from when she is away on vacation, though, which I think is a bit drastic...]
I love seeing the names of the people who died, and their ages. I am saddened when young people die - counting as "young" anyone who is under 70. I wonder about the cause of death when it is not indicated. I read about the survivors - and wonder, especially, about those designated as "special". Particularly when there are others in that relationship category. What makes one a "special niece" as opposed to just one of many "nieces and nephews". I love it when families put in pieces of the person's history - which around here typically includes which rural schools the person attended as a young child, where he or she served during WWII or the Korean Conflict, and when he or she married the "love of (his or her) life".
When I read about the survivors, though, I also look to see where they live. I wonder about the families that are spread all over the place...I am equally as intrigued by families that all live in the same town. I especially wonder about the families where none of the survivors live near the person who passed away. Most of the time, I am sad for the person who died - jumping to the conclusion, perhaps, that there were not enough family get-togethers before the person died. And then I realize that I live halfway across the country from my parents...so I am one of those "absentee" family members, too.
I tend to gloss over the fact that there are likely many dysfunctional relationships hidden within these obituaries...and don't typically think about how what I am reading tends to be the sanitized version of the person's life. Those obituaries that are brutally honest can be hard to read- but also interesting. They are few and far between, though.
And I wonder about how my obituary will read...What accomplishments have I achieved that I would want people to know about? For all my time in school, I suspect that I would rather have mine focus on who I loved, who loved me, and what good I did while I was on this planet.
I guess it's time to get started doing some serious good.