Friday, October 3, 2014

Dueling Obits

You know, doing what I do, I traffic in obituaries.  Between Find A Grave and handling the "who died" archive for my high school, I find myself looking at a lot of death notices and memorials each day.  Today, I came across a curious and distasteful phenomenon.  Something I've come across before.

Dueling obituaries.

It's more common that you'd think (hope), and I find it awful.  What are dueling obits?

Oh, that's when one part of the family hates the other part, and so they excise them from the obituary. The excises part of the family publishes their own obituary, often (but not always) excising the other family members.

For example, today A.B.'s family (likely his children) posted a long obituary for their deceased loved one.  A lot of information about his dead wife, his loving children, his amazing grandkids.  All by name.  What they left out was "the love of his life," his long-term, live-in significant other, who, apparently, they dislike enough to omit all mention of her many happy years with him.

And A.B.'s significant other?  Well, she published her own obit for A.B., one that mentions her, her daughter, and all of his grandchildren by name.  And his kids?  Mentioned, but not by name.

Of these two, clearly the children are the worse offenders, as they completely cut her out of his life.  But hers was a bit petty, too, only mentioning "sons and daughters" instead of by name.  Who started it? Probably the kids, but that's not my point.  My point is, what a crappy tribute to someone you loved.  Clearly, you caused him astounding grief with your childish behavior before he died, must you carry it over to his obituary so it's now glaringly obvious to the world?

This isn't the first--or even the 30th--time I've seen this.  Sometimes it's been family vs friends, often it's new wife vs kids from first marriage.  I know one woman (known her since I was a child) who, when her husband died, listed herself (she was the second wife), his siblings, her family, their PETS, and then, as a last, tag-on scrap, "he was also survived by children from a previous marriage."

BAM!  WHOA!  And worse?  She didn't even call those kids to let them know their father had died. I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, "What a trashy, low-rent creature."  Actually, she's a wealthy woman, a prominent attorney.  And she carried a grudge over into her husband's obituary, leaving his children with that last, final jab as a lifetime reminder that she never could manage to get along with her step-children.

Do yourself a favor.  Do your family a favor.  Do your dead loved one's memory/legacy a favor and check your bickering and grudges at the door when it comes to writing up that obituary.  Unless your deceased family member was Josef Mengele in a housecoat (if that's the case, absolutely be honest if that's what works for you), the obit is the place for memorializing, not carrying on family feuds.  You may think you're getting in that final, grand smack, but what you're really doing is making yourself look like a creep of the first order.  And if you're doing it because you know THEY'RE going to do it?

Don't.  Be the better person.  What better revenge than coming across looking like the good guy?

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