Funny obits bring new life to a dying art

Story highlights

  • Humorous death notices are breathing new life into the art of obituary writing
  • Once stuffy tributes to important people, obits now follow literary traditions
  • They are gaining new popularity online as certain obits go viral
  • The Society of Professional Obituary Writers met again this year after a hiatus
Their loved one isn't dead yet but sure seems to be nearly departed. So you could almost hear the organ and smell the lilies as the obit writers gathered and paid their respects to a dying art.
They drew comfort from one another as only people who write about the dead for a living can -- sharing cocktails and gallows humor on a Friday night in June, down in the rathskeller of an historic mansion. A band called Canuckistan played hippie-era classics by Neil Young, Bob Dylan and The Band (RIP, Levon Helm, 1940-2012.)
As the writers nibbled and quaffed, they commiserated about the challenges of staying employed and swapped stories about their favorite obits: the bowlegged ballerina; the bra fitter; the nature photographer who arrived on this Earth a he and departed a she.
If it weren't for the obit writers, the world might not know about those people.