My mother passed on Christmas Day of 2012. While this might sound awful, it was actually the day she wanted to depart – it had been her favorite holiday (and Silent Night was her favorite song).

I volunteered to write Mom’s obit, and I actually got a lot of comfort from writing it. I also received a lot of warm praise, so I would like to offer this service to others.

When I wrote the obituary, I did what I always do when faced with an unfamiliar task – I researched it. I discovered that obituaries do not have to be run-of-the-mill. You can add creativity, so long as you stay within the general guidelines.

Here is help if you decide to write one yourself…Guide to writing an obituary

And, here is the obit I wrote for my mother …

Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright.

Pauline Dawson, 83 met Heavenly hosts in 2012, on the evening when Christ the child was born, December 25.

Born in Anytown, USA, Pauline grew up on Warren Street in Trenton and then raised her family in Morrisville, PA. She was employed by XYZ in Pennsylvania for 15 years. After living in Morrisville, she moved to Hamilton Township, where she had resided with her sister up until her passing.

Pauline loved to cook, decorate, and mentor. She enjoyed spending time with family and her cat Cynthia of 19.5 years. She was appreciative of all who helped her and would leave soda out for the garbage men for doing such a hard but much-needed job. Pauline was also known both for her wit and her narratives of bygone days. On Christmas Eve, she had a circle of family around her hospital bed, entertained by her humor and story-telling.

Pauline is predeceased by her husband H. Dawson; her parents, S and C; and by her brother, C.  She is survived by her best friend and loyal sister, Joan and her five loving children and their spouses: Robert, Shirley and Gene, Denise and Bill, and Richard and Joy, all from the Trenton area, and Joan Dawson of Maryland. Pauline leaves behind ten grandchildren: Dana in PA, Claudine and Clint in Germany; Gene and wife Jeanna, Lindsey  all of PA; Tara of NJ, Taylor and husband Eric of DE; Brian, Mathew and Victoria, all of NJ; and two great-grandchildren, Nathan and Braxton of Delaware.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent instead to Pauline’s favorite charities, St. Jude’s Hospital and the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen.

The viewing will be held between 8 and 10 AM Thursday, January 3, 2013 at K & K Funeral Home at 260 Whitehorse Drive in Hamilton Township and will be followed by a mass at St. Raphael’s (3500 S. Broad St.) at 11 AM.  Burial will be at St. Mary’s Cemetery (1200 Cedar Lane) at 1 PM.

Sleep in Heavenly peace, Mother.  

And, I wrote my own obit…

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”—Martin Luther King, Jr.

Joan Dawson’s life came to an end on MONTH DAY, in TOWN, ST. She was ## years old.

Joan grew up in Morrisville, PA and went to college in the Pine Barrens of NJ, at Stockton University, where she met many friends and enjoyed some of the best days of her life. After graduation, she joined the Peace Corps and worked in the Dominican Republic. Bitten by the travel bug, Joan would travel to nearly 40 countries and live in 4 foreign cities in her lifetime. She had a master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins and, as a writer, would craft articles on health, women’s human rights, and travel. Joan was passionate and outspoken about social justice issues. She volunteered with Amnesty International and Volunteers Crossing Borders for Women’s Rights while she worked as an editor in South Korea and served on the Board of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission for 5 years when she returned to the States. Joan also loved to walk, swim, and camp.

Joan is the beloved daughter of the late … Dawson and “little” sister to four siblings … She is aunt to … and great aunt to …

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent instead to Joan’s favorite charity, the National Women’s History Museum.

Joan opted for an eco-friendly green burial in her revered Pine Barrens, at Steelmantown Cemetary in Woodbine, NJ. There will not be a viewing, but there will be a short ceremony following the burial.