Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Year Later, Obituary Helps Phillips Live on; Family Keeps Track of How Far Her Words Travel, How They Touch Others

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Year Later, Obituary Helps Phillips Live on; Family Keeps Track of How Far Her Words Travel, How They Touch Others

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Soergel

After doctors told her she had terminal cancer, Emily Phillips wrote her own obituary, and it was a doozy: a playful, loving masterpiece that looked back on the joys of being a daughter, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend and a teacher - while also pondering the fleeting nature of life.

"So ... I was born; I blinked; and it was over," she wrote. "No buildings named after me; no monuments erected in my honor."

Turned out she wasn't quite right. There is a monument for her: the obituary itself.

It quickly spread across social media and across the globe, grabbing hearts, raising smiles and prompting tears.

Her words live on, even a year after she died of pancreatic cancer on March 25, 2015. She was 69, and she died just 29 days after her diagnosis.

"How cool that she left this amazing little treasure for us," said her daughter, Bonnie Upright, 46, of Orange Park. "It really does keep her spirit alive, it keeps her memory alive."

People mention it to Upright often, and it still regularly pops up on social media, as if new.

Just last week, Upright was interviewed about it by a reporter in France.

Many people say they wished they had known the former schoolteacher, a one-time hometown beauty queen whose obituary told the world that she was happy now, and dancing.

"Probably naked."

So far, Phillips' obituary has been seen more than 2 million times on Jacksonville.com, where it was easily the most-read story of 2015.

It went wide on the "Today" show too. Huffington Post. Buzzfeed. Newspapers in England. Facebook and Twitter and Reddit.

The story went everywhere, and Upright, a public-relations professional, went into work mode to track its many appearances.

Meanwhile on Legacy.com, her mother's obituary guest book is still getting comments, some 5,000 so far.

"Thousands upon thousands of people I don't know, will never know, from different countries, states, different cities," Upright said. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.