That may seem like an odd question. However, there are articles, magazine, websites, and contests about this subject. If you’re looking for a different topic or a new challenge, it’s not a bad place to look. I’m not talking about death in a murder mystery or fictional sense. I’m talking about discussing death in a very personal sense. At this point, most people get squeamish and decide to find a new recipe to publish. Do you? You may be missing good opportunities.
I understand that death is a painful subject for almost everyone at some point, and it can take time to be able to share your feelings. If that’s the case, consider writing about the controversies in families, ethical wills, the difficulties of enforcing living wills (also called medical directives), elder care laws, or other related areas. Maybe your area needs someone to review nursing homes, hospices, or lifecare communities for senior newsletters or websites. Some of the home health care company websites also ask for reviews. Reviewing lifecare communities isn’t much different than reviewing a resort. They are large, pretty, include everything within one community, and the staff and residents usually welcome guests. All you need to do is schedule a tour.
On the other hand, if you’re comfortable talking about personal experiences, there are places to do that too. It’s not a topic that’s off limits for writing contests, poetry, or creative non-fiction, unless the topic is specified. In addition, there are magazines for the hospice and funeral industries, as well as for caregivers. Another popular topic is green burials. The environmental impacts and choices available offers many topics and approaches. Of course, you can also glean information from others.
People who go through personal losses often want someone to talk to them and to be able to open up. They get tired of people not saying anything or avoiding them. They’re tired of being afraid to say anything because it might alienate friends and family. That’s one reason I include forums on the A Penny and Change blog site. Losing loved ones is a major life change, and I hope to build a support community for all manner of life changes. Good or bad, changes require adjustments. There’s nothing better than talking to people who are there with you or who’ve been there.
Writers can read and join forums and websites on my site, or other sites, in areas of interest. As long as you respect other people’s privacy and feelings, there’s no problem asking for their input or doing an informal survey. Eulogy and obituary writing, bereavement books, memory books, and poems for cards or gravestones, have to be written by someone. While many people pick something from a list at a website or funeral home, others would love something personal. I wrote my mother-in-law’s obituary and family members I’ve never met called to say it was the best obit they’d ever seen. A professional writer can make a difference anyplace written words are used.
If you’re also looking for new ideas to teach in writing classes, try the topic of ethical wills. There are more memoir writing classes than I can count. However, writing an ethical will is a topic that’s more focused and appeals to church groups and service groups, as well as individuals. It can be used as a new class in personal writing too. Ethical wills are also a great place to use video and audio to convey the full meaning and personal importance of the author’s wishes. This is a hot topic and not one that’s limited to persons approaching the end of their lives.
What does this writing pay? Honestly, no one answered my queries about the volume of business or annual income they receive from these services. Therefore, I can only say what I found searching online. Eulogy speeches came in at $275 for 3 minutes, with original poems for cards and gravestones at $100. One site charges a flat fee for meeting with the relatives and producing the first write ($200 for the meeting and $50/hour for rewrites). Workshops for bereavement books are offered on another site at $350 for ten sessions. Of course, many places don’t list prices, and it’s not likely to be a large market.
One important fact to remember is that this type of work is always needed immediately. Burials are often within days of a death, and the turnaround expected may be a matter of hours–a day or two at most. Don’t venture into this market without realizing this and being able to commit to meeting that type of deadline (no pun intended). However, with the aging population, it’s a fact that there is a market that will expand. If you think you can deal with grieving relatives and the funeral home environment, try leaving a card with neighborhood churches and funeral homes, or place a tasteful ad in a senior newspaper. You may also want to design a nice business card and leave it with a letter of introduction at the lifecare communities in your area too.