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An Obituary That Touches Everyone / Nick Ehrhardt

An Obituary That Touches Everyone

Emily DeBrayda Phillips

Writing an obituary can be one of the most challenging tasks any of us undertake. How do you sum up a life in only a few short paragraphs? Should one focus on accomplishments? Family ties? Which memories should be recorded for posterity? It's even more difficult when the obituary we're writing is our own.

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Emily DeBrayda Phillips excelled at that challenge. The 69 year-old wife, mother, teacher, friend and "spoiling grandmother" composed her own send-off while in hospice care before losing her battle with pancreatic cancer. Since its publication her words and story have been passed around the internet and her online Guest Book has attracted hundreds of condolence messages from complete strangers.

She begins, "It pains me to admit it, but apparently, I have passed away. Everyone told me it would happen one day but that's simply not something I wanted to hear, much less experience. Once again I didn't get things my way! That's been the story of my life all my life."

With gentle humor and an eye for detail she walks the reader through the journey of her life. Throughout her Guest Book people have expressed the sentiment that although they did not know her, they were touched by her words. As Brenda Patterson from Florida wrote, "I didn't have the pleasure of knowing Emily but I want to tell you, her family and friends, her obituary was wonderful."

It is a truly a gift to be able to express oneself through writing as it can allow us to continue to touch others with our spirit long after we've gone. Emily suggests, "If you want to, you can look for me in the evening sunset or with the earliest spring daffodils or amongst the flitting and fluttering butterflies." We believe she can also be found in the final words she wrote.

Read Emily DeBrayda Phillips's full obituary and Guest Book.