My Turn, Cindy Fink: Select a nonprofit like Meals on Wheels to include in obituary

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 24, 2022

By Cindy Fink


As my parents aged, they began reading the obituaries before any other articles in the Salisbury Post. I don’t know if age has something to do with reading the obituaries first. Although I qualify as a senior, I don’t read the obituaries first, but I do read them. I scan them first to see if any friends or acquaintances have passed away. I am curious as to how the deceased spent their time on earth. Were they busy with work or family, church, volunteering, etc.?

I also work with Meals on Wheels, so I read the obituaries to see if any of our Meals on Wheels participants or volunteers have died.   When we lose a Meals on Wheels participant, many volunteers ask about “Mr. Jones,” who was on their meal delivery route.

We sincerely appreciate memorials or bequests from participants, volunteers, family members, donors, or community members. Periodically one of our former delivery volunteers will ask for memorials to be sent to Meals on Wheels. And occasionally a participant or volunteer will bless us with a bequest.

I have to admit that sometimes I am perplexed when an individual who has received Meals on Wheels for the past 1-12 years passes away, and there is no mention in the obituary of memorial gifts to Meals on Wheels. Over 95% of our clients receive free or greatly reduced-price meals.

Most obituaries conclude with information about the visitation, service, homegoing, or celebration of life. And many obituaries mention where to make donations in memory of the deceased individual. I am often surprised at the number of requests for donations to national causes. I don’t have anything against national causes or organizations, but many local organizations could benefit from a few gifts of $25-$50 or more.

Have you thought about your obituary? What do you want the reader to know about you? What brought you joy? Did you care about children, seniors, animals, or the homeless?  If you are not ready to write your obituary, list the facts and information you want to be included and give a copy to your family. If your church keeps a funeral file for each member, ask your church secretary or pastor to place a copy of your notes or obituary with the scriptures and hymns you select for your service.

I can tell you from experience that the last thing you want to do when you lose a family member is to search for a photograph or sit down and write an obituary that has to be submitted to the newspaper by a looming deadline. Select your obituary photograph and add it to a file with your notes or a copy of your obituary. One of my friends recently said, “We all have an expiration date; we just don’t know what it is yet.”

If you are tasked with writing an obituary and unsure what organization(s) you would like to receive donations in honor of your loved one, consider where they volunteered or what nonprofit agency provided them with services. You might include their faith home or one of their favorite charities. Most funeral services also have a list of local nonprofit organizations that you can review. If the deceased wasn’t involved in the community, consider selecting a nonprofit that provides needed services in Rowan County.

Take a poll and ask your friends and family if they read the obituaries first. If your obituary is the first thing someone reads when they open the Salisbury Post or the Post website, why not make it a good first or last impression?

Cindy Fink is executive director of Meals on Wheels.