Local newspaper Eco di Bergamo features several pages of obituaries in its March 17, 2020, edition in Mediglia, Italy. Credit: Luca Bruno / AP

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Why do we tell details of a person’s life after they pass?

I read many obituaries in the BDN. I don’t even know the person I’m reading about, with rare exceptions, yet I find myself drawn to read about them anyway. Even when someone I know has passed and as I read their obituary, I find out things about them that I never knew — interesting things, accomplishments and sometimes even their struggles with health issues. I had no idea!

Of course, when someone rich and famous passes, they get a lot more ink on the page. Why? Because they were rich and famous. That does not make them unique in my book. But I digress.

Some of the best obituaries I have read were written in advance by the person who passed. They apparently wanted to control what was said about them. Very smart indeed. I have mine written and will soon distribute it to a half dozen people in my circle who will most likely survive me. At the end of the day, I have no idea if it will be published the way I want it to be presented. I will have to rely on others to respect my wishes.

Sadly, our individual stories sometimes aren’t told until after we are gone, and sometimes, it is from someone else’s perspective and not ours.

David Winslow