And obituaries, as anyone who reads or writes obituaries will tell you, are really not about death. They’re occasioned by death, and they almost always wrap up with a list of those separated from the beloved by death. But they are full of life. The good ones are as intoxicating as a lung full of snowy air, as clarifying as the glass the ophthalmologist drops before your eyes, that brings the world into sudden sharp focus. The great obits aren’t the products of jackknifed tractor-trailers and hurricanes—the obits are released by such disasters.Marilyn Johnson, The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries (New York: HarperCollins, 2006), pp. 195-96.