MKMMA Week 18+ – Dead Men Tell No Tales

But their next of kin will talk your ear off!

Due to the scheduling challenges I’ve experienced over the past few weeks, I just today was able to view the week 18 webinar replay. There I learned that the assignment to read at least two obituaries each day had been extended through this week.

With no knowledge that this had been assigned, I had already been following this daily exercise on my own since its beginning, as a fascination of what I learn with each reading. I realize this is my second post on this subject, but I was moved to share additional insights even yesterday, prior to learning this afternoon that these reading are part of our current week’s itinerary.

In the event you’re not familiar with newspaper concepts, “column inches” are the standard by which all newsprint content is judged. As an editorial writer the greater space your article receives is often viewed as a  reflection of your implied status to the paper. Advertising space is sold in column inches.

And obituaries, which are typically paid for by the poster, appear in column inches. The Washington Post obit pages are six columns by the full newspaper page length – measured at about 21 inches with a small allowance for borders.

A typical obituary in the Post will run about 2-3 inches in one column. Add an inch if there is a photo. (The photos chosen for obituaries are a topic for an entire post in itself – especially recalling that it’s the family who chooses how the departed should be remembered.)

So why all this review of the technical workings of the fourth estate?

What caught my eye yesterday were two listings that were two-column by five and six inches respectively. It stands to reason that the greater the space, the more room for copy content. And as you’re reading these you probably realize that the more typical posing is 80% a listing of the surviving next of kin – in some cases looking like the writer feared reprisal from any even distant family member left off the list.

These two-column memorials were no such thing. Rather , both were moving mini-biographies of the departed’s life and legacy. Each left me feeling rewarded for having shared the experience of their life.

And then today I discover a listing that runs two columns by an entire half page (about 11 inches)! It was a grand biography of the accomplishments in the life of a clearly beloved family member.

Thinking of the first of the three questions posed as we read these obits, I sense that the people I “meet” in these extended memorials, rather than ask for one more day, would ask me to live up to the challenge: “seek to live as rich, full and meaningful a life as possible, that you will be remembered this way too.”

 

 

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One Response to “MKMMA Week 18+ – Dead Men Tell No Tales”

  1. Patricia Tamowski Says:

    Thank you for all the insight into obituaries! It IS interesting reading them and it certainly adds new meaning to “I will live this day as if it is my last”.

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