— Jim Poling (@PolingRecord) February 5, 2019
A woman named Sybil Hicks died peacefully on February 2, 2023, at the age of 81. When she passed, her children knew that not just any obituary would do. Their mom had been living with Alzheimer’s for years, and the person they once knew their mother to be—quick-witted and outspoken—was shrouded by the disease. The siblings decided to honor their mother’s memory by writing a humorous (and often biting) first-person obituary.
“We just thought that when she passed, we really didn't want to have this sort of boilerplate template obituary,” Brian Hicks, the second oldest of Sybil’s five children, explained. He and his sisters Barbara and Brenda wrote the obit, which was as humorous as it was heartfelt.
It begins with a gentle jab at her husband, Ron. “It hurts me to admit it, but I, Mrs. Ron Hicks from Baysville, have passed away,” her children wrote. “I leave behind my loving husband, Ron Hicks, whom I often affectionately referred to as a ‘Horse's Ass.'”
In Sybil’s voice, the obituary goes on to poke fun at each of her children. “I also left behind my children whom I tolerated over the years; Bob (with Carol) my oldest son and also my favorite. Brian (with Ginette) who was the Oreo cookie favorite, Brenda AKA ‘Hazel' who would run to clean the bathrooms when she heard company was coming. Barbara (with Gordon) the ever Miss Perfect and finally Baby Bruce who wouldn't eat homemade turkey soup because he didn't want to be alert looking for bones while he ate.”
The writing is full of the type of inside jokes that only exists in families, and it ends with a great line: “I finally have the smoking hot body I have always wanted… having been cremated.” That alone helped it go viral and introduced the world to the late and great Sybil.
While the obituary has made many people laugh, it has also proved healing for the family after their long goodbye due to the nature of Alzheimer's disease. “We wanted to do something that kind of celebrated who she was,” Brian said, “and to give us an opportunity to basically have one last conversation with her, and have some laughs at the same time.”