Since Halloween is, deep down, all about how we deal with death, it seems as good a time as any to admit this: I'm terrified of dying. I've been terrified of dying since the moment I knew I would die. The idea of all of this, everything, the seasons and the food and the books and the cities and the forests and all my family and friends and everything fun and sad and scary and joyful just... ending... for me — it's kept me up many times at night. Which is why I'm glad that funny obituaries exist, because they kind of make it a lot less awful.
Many people face their own death, and the deaths of people they love, without fear; these are the kind of lovely people who treat funerals not as a somber, tragic affair, but as a celebration of life. (By comparison, every funeral I've ever been to has been a dark event in a drafty New England 18th century church. Maybe that's why I'm scared.)
When, for this article, I searched for obituaries that weren't sad, or even merely celebratory, but actually funny, I was surprised by the number of death notices that fit the bill. For many people, it turns out, the way they deal with death is through a sense of humor. I'm a comedian, and I could learn a thing or two from these folks:
"Jim died knowing that Monty Python and the Holy Grail was the best movie ever. Bruce Springsteen best recording artist, Clint Eastwood the baddest man on the planet, and that chicks dig El Caminos," Groth, of Los Angeles, wrote in for his own obit. "His regrets were few but include eating a rotisserie hot dog from a convenience store in the summer of 2002, not training his faithful dog Rita to detect cancer, and that no video evidence exists of his prowess on the soccer field or in the bedroom."
Many hilarious obituaries are written by the deceased themselves (so if you want a funny obit, get on it!), but Mullaney's adult children got in on the act here. "We were blessed to learn many valuable lessons from Pink during her 85 years, among them: Never throw away old pantyhose. Use the old ones to tie gutters, child-proof cabinets, tie toilet flappers, or hang Christmas ornaments. Also: If a possum takes up residence in your shed, grab a barbecue brush to coax him out. If he doesn't leave, brush him for twenty minutes and let him stay."
Like many Ohioans, Entsminger was a Browns fan. Also like many Ohioans, the team frequently disappointed him. "A lifelong Cleveland Browns fan and season ticket holder, he also wrote a song each year and sent it to the Cleveland Browns as well as offering other advice on how to run the team," his obituary says. "He respectfully requests six Cleveland Browns pall bearers so the Browns can let him down one last time." Damn.
This one is one of my favorites, and it deserves to be read in full. It's flat-out hilarious (the obituary was written by her children, who imagine that their mom has many other children whom they have never met) and very touching. "Toni previously served on the board of the Hancock County Library Foundation," the obit says. "Ironically, the only correspondence she has received from the library since her resignation has been overdue notices for several overdue books (a true statement.) Between ICU, dialysis and physical therapy she selfishly refused to make the time to return them. Her last words were, 'tell them that the check is in the mail…'"
"He particularly hated Daylight Saving Time, which he referred to as The Devil's Time," Stamps' daughter wrote in his obit. "It is not lost on his family that he died the very day that he would have had to spring his clock forward. This can only be viewed as his final protest." His obit, of course, concludes with a call to action: "Finally, the family asks that in honor of Harry that you write your Congressman and ask for the repeal of Day Light Saving Time. Harry wanted everyone to get back on the Lord's Time."