ITHACA, N.Y. (WENY) -- Everybody needs one...but not everybody is going to have a good one. Former New York Times writer Roger Segelken, who used to write obituaries for the publication, teaches people about how to perfect their ultimate last words.  

“Do you trust your family to get your story straight,” he said.  

Segelken said people typically do not, especially the people in his class called "The Ultimate Last Word: Write Your Own Obituary." He said the key to writing an interesting obit is to tell a story about yourself that would peak someone's interest.  

During his class, Segelken asks people to be introspective and ask themselves: "What are three things people would like to know about me?" 

“It's a way of drawing the stories out of ourselves and thinking about how they'll sound to other people,” he said.  

 Segelken said when people choose to write about their lives, they are signing up for a journey of laughing, crying, and coming to terms with one's death. 

“The process of talking about your life, trying out your stories on other people...I think makes us all a little more introspective,” he said. “...but helps us deal with our own mortality.” 

In the ten years Segelken has been teaching people to write their own obits, he said no one has needed them yet. He added, there is a limited lifetime warranty on the process. 

This workshop series is co-hosted by the Greater Ithaca Activities Center Senior Program & The History Center in Tompkins County and is open to all.