The Love of Their Life

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I have developed a fascination with obituaries lately. Most likely, this is because I read them out loud every month from the local newspaper for my volunteer stint with the Lighthouse Center for Vision Loss.

Despite my history as a romance writer, the cynic in me always gets a kick out of obituaries that state the departed met or married someone who was the “love of their life.”

I have noticed that the “love of their life” phrase is usually used when the “love of their life” survives the person for whom the obituary is written. Could it be that the survivors are the ones who wrote the obituaries? If so, are they including the phrase because it’s true, or as an ego boost for themselves and a way to assert their important status in the departed person’s life?

The romance writer in me would like to think the phrase is true. But I have done an informal survey and have noticed that almost every time, the “love” is the one who is the survivor.

If the couple had a long relationship, I’d be inclined to believe that the phrase is true, but length of a relationship does not always indicate a happy, loving relationship.

I often wonder if the departed person would have included the phrase in their obituary if they had been the one to write it. Since they are dead and I cannot ask them this, I guess this is one of those unanswerable burning questions that will plague me for the rest of my days during the wee hours of the morning.

What do you think about this phrase? Is it overused? Is it just a way for survivors to feel better? Am I entirely too cynical? Should I try to solve world hunger instead?

8 thoughts on “The Love of Their Life

    • I guess the thing that bugs me is that the survivors seem to be inserting themselves into the obituary instead of making it about the person who died. I suppose, in a strange way, they could be honoring the dead person in this way, but it still seems sorta weird.

  1. Marie, I understand what you’re saying and wonder if this is a recent addition as I haven’t seen that phrase. What an excellent volunteer job and a great help to those visual impaired. As for obituaries I read how one writer was asked to write an longer obituary for one resident who had no family and since then she was asked by nearly everyone in the area for help, aiding many and learning a lot about the families. Fascinating.

    • Thanks for commenting, Annika! It could be that the “love of their life” phrase is a local thing. I admit, I have not read many obituaries written in other places in the country. I agree that good obituary writing is an under-appreciated art. Think of it — for many people, their birth announcement and obituary are the only press they receive during their lifetimes. For the historical record, if nothing else, it’s worth writing them well.

      I recently read a good fiction book on the topic, titled “The Obituary Writer,” by Ann Hood. It was a good read.

      • It is a huge responsibility summing up a life in just a few words, or small article! Oh, the book sounds intriguing and I’ve put it on my wish list to read later – thank you for mentioning it.

  2. Kudos for volunteering to read for those who need it! I confess that I read obituaries and tend to edit and analyze. It is a difficult task to sum up a lifetime (or even a shorter life) in a few paragraphs. Every life deserves dignity. “The love of my life” is too often used. And could one have more than one “love of my life?” I think of those in a second marriage who lost their “love of their life” by death and then found another “love of their life.” I will check out the book you mentioned in one comment. Some families do need help! TGIF to you, Marie!

    • Hi Jo Nell,

      Good point about the “love of my life” phrase implying that you can have only one. Love comes in different forms and you can be just as crazy about another person, albeit in a different way. Everyone has their own unique gifts when it comes to love. I hope you are having a good summer!

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