Crystal Sauser didn’t know who wrote obituaries. Was it the funeral home? The deceased’s loved ones?
At 39, she didn’t think she’d have to know the answer.
But in February, her husband of 13 years died of cancer, leaving behind Sauser and their three children. Suddenly, she found herself browsing funeral home obituary templates, grieving and dissatisfied.
She realized she’d have to do it herself.
Her obituary for her 43-year-old husband Eric A. Sauser – which describes him as “just a rockin’ dude from Omaha, NE” – has since gone viral for its illuminating humor. It attributes his cause of death to “either leukemia or more likely being ‘dead sexy.’”
“(Eric’s) departure was just in time for him to make his spiritual appearance at every Red Sox spring game,” she wrote.
She includes the standard obituary practice of noting his family and friend who survived him, but added a twist on those who had gone before him: “He is preceded in death by billions, including his dog Harvey who most of us loved to hate. We are confident they are joyfully reconnecting right now.”
Sauser said writing the obituary came to her naturally.
“It’s so easy to write something like this when you love them so much,” she told CNN. “Him and I were partners. We were magical.”
A diagnosis didn’t stop the sexiness
Eric was first diagnosed with cancer in 2018. The diagnosis, Sauser said, came as a shock.
“He would carry (our daughter) up to our room and one night he just said, ‘I’m so out of breath. I’m so tired.’ And that was really all it took,” she said.
Two years of treatment, recovery and recurrence ensued.
Sauser said she wanted to make sure Eric knew she loved him, despite the physical changes he was undergoing.
“I would say, ‘You’re so sexy,’” Sauser said, remembering a time when she pushed her husband in a wheelchair through the airport. “He would always be like, ‘That is so annoying.’”
When Eric died, Sauser said, the hospice nurses, whom they had built a relationship with over previous months, came to pronounce his death.
Sauser jokingly told them to write down “dead sexy” as the cause.
“At the end of the day, my commitment was that I would never stop loving him,” she said. “He needed to know it wasn’t materialistic – that I thought he was dead sexy for him, for who he was.”
After Covid, she wanted to share her husband with those who loved him
Of the attention surrounding Sauser’s obituary, she said Eric would be embarrassed – but secretly loving it.
“He loved a chance to be a showboat,” Sauser said. “He loved to dance. He would wait until everybody was sitting down, and then he would quietly get up and start dancing just so everyone could watch him.”
Sauser was sure to list Eric’s greatest loves in his obituary.
“Eric loved, in this order, his smoking hot wife, his brilliant kids and family, his many friends, the Boston Red Sox, the Kansas City Chiefs (before being a Chiefs fan was cool), the Huskers, Liverpool Futbol, QT iced tea, Adidas sneakers, fishing, backpacking, hiking, hunting, and any old Chevy he saw on the road,” she wrote. “Eric hated sad stories, beets, romantic comedies, a snow packed driveway and turning off the garage light.”
“That’s it,” she wrote. “Eric was content with most everything else.”
Sauser said the obituary was an opportunity to show people who Eric was, especially since his latest diagnosis coincided with the onset of Covid-19, leaving him isolated for much of the year.
“For me, to be able to put him out into the world again was so special,” she said. “It was a chance to share who he was, so people knew he wasn’t just some sick dude.”
The response to the obituary has been overwhelming and joyful, Sauser said.
“We always wanted to do something big for people and for others,” she said. “I’m sad that it took this to do it. But if we change the way people love for even 15 minutes, we are so pleased to be able to share our story and our love with the world.”