For a couple of years now, I have been in charge of handling the obituary section at the newspaper
I work at. Funeral homes differ slightly on what information
they send us for an obituary, but the general information given, besides the name and date of death
, are those who survive
the individual, a brief history of their life, and where and when the funeral
will take place. Usually a funeral home does not send us the cause
of death, mainly because a family tends to prefer a cause of death to remain private
. Sometimes they will list “died of natural causes,” or “passed away after a prolonged illness,” but rarely anything else.
We have noticed one small phenominon when it comes to death notices: There tend to be more deaths right after a holiday, and significantly less just before a holiday. We have reasoned that this most likely is due to elderly relatives wishing to remain as long as possible, to enjoy one last holiday with their loved ones on Earth, before they pass on. For instance, this past week (just after Christmas and New Year’s), we have been receiving an average of 6-7 an issue. Prior to Christmas, we averaged 2-3 an issue. This remains relatively constant for most holidays.
Obituaries overall tend to be vague and formulaic. Throughout the past few years, several interesting obits have crossed my path, however. One obit claimed the deceased always had a kind disposition, “but if she thought you needed a good talking to, she wasn’t afraid of speaking her mind!” At least two obits have listed their dogs as surviving family. (Nothing wrong with that at all, just... different.) One deceased woman had left behind 32 children. (Did not say if some of these were adopted or not.) Also, I always thought it interesting that some families found it important to list a crazy nickname for the relative who passed way. Some of the more amusing names I can think of include “Jug-Head,” “Boomer,” “Spunky,” "Possum," "Hump,"and “Bigga.”