Class Title: Put a Little Life in Your Obituary
Instructor: Sarah White
Class Term:
We are not accepting any more enrollments for Sarah's class; the class has started.


How will you be remembered? Every life story deserves a polished telling, but that seldom happens in the stressful time following a death. With a little help, you can write a lively, accurate picture of your life suitable for publication when the time comes. Make the task enjoyable by working on it in a group of SCN writers.

Class Description

We'll explore the revival of interest in obituaries in America, and the expanding array of styles acceptable for these personal portraits. Exercises in writing and memory recall will help participants prepare to draft an obituary. Students will finish an obituary essay designed to lessen the burden on loved ones at life's end.

At the end of this class, you will be able to give loved ones a brief story of your life, told as you would like it remembered.

Students will be given one writing assignment and one reading assignment each week. Assignments and instructions will be posted in the course Yahoo Group. Students are encouraged to discuss the work of writing an obituary using group emails. Completed assignments will be uploaded as Word or PDF documents attachments to the Yahoo Group. The instructor will offer feedback; students are encouraged to comment on one another's work as well.


  • Unit 1: Obituaries: Revival of the Biographical Essay
  • Unit 2: Organize Your Obituary
  • Unit 3: Polish Your Draft

Student Skills, Equipment, and Time Required

Beginning writers welcome. Students should be able to complete assignments using word processing software, including formatting documents as instructed. Students should have access to the Internet and be familiar with web browser controls to access the Yahoo Group, read and post messages, and download and upload attachments. Time Commitment: 1-3 hours per lesson

Tuition/Fees for this course

SCN members: $96. Non-SCN members: $120.

Instructor Bio

Sarah White Sarah White provides writing services for individuals, families, businesses, and communities from her home base in Madison, Wisconsin. Typical projects include books, articles, online content, and life histories. She has been teaching reminiscence writing to small groups since 2004 and began teaching online for Story Circle Network in 2009.

Praise for Sarah's Classes

  • Never thought I would love writing my obituary, but I did! Lots of info in Sarah White's class. —Trudy E., Clarkdale AZ

  • This was my first Story Circle on line course. The instructor Sarah White has set the bar very high. Her use of "appreciative inquiry" feedback was most helpful. I will look for her future courses and definitely consider taking another SC online course. The experience was as usual with Story Circle first class, very well done. Many thanks. —Pat T., Tyler TX

  • Sarah White was everything I could have hoped for in an instructor: lively, engaged, affirming, prompt. I'm afraid she may have spoiled me for any future instructors! —Marilyn P., Waterville ME

  • I learned a lot, it was a morale booster and I appreciated Sarah White's constructive criticism. —Jane C., Austin TX

  • I learned basics of writing travel memoir—techniques for gathering material on the road, finding the story within the story, organizing and writing the memoir. When I leave for vacation next month, I'll be taking what I've learned in Sarah White's course along with me. —Kathy W., Austin TX

  • Although I have a degree in creative writing, I learned a lot from Sarah White's style of outlining and writing. —Elizabeth F., Ogden UT

  • The conference calls were very helpful and satisfying—more of a feeling of a class, camaraderie, etc. Also found Sarah White's comments and suggestions on my writing piece helpful. —Chestelle S., Austin TX

  • Sarah White was informed, organized, and enthusiastic about her subject. When I was unable to submit my main essay on time, she graciously allowed me to turn it in after the deadline and critiqued it as well. Her critiques served not only to teach but also to encourage. I would enjoy taking other classes from her. Everything about the mini-course was excellent. —Kathy W., Austin TX

  • I greatly benefited from Sarah White's instruction and help. I would love to take another course from her. —Mary Ann P., Sugar Land TX

  • Sarah White presented the material in a concise and clear manner, using the conference calls to clarify even further. She provided extensive feedback to me in a format that was easy to follow. Her encouraging manner and helpful suggestions made writing my travel essay exciting. —Joan G., Bellevue NE

  • Sarah White is a master at constructive criticism. Her comments were insightful and spot on. —Janice K., Austin TX