Speaking of the Dead: Obituary in the Social Media Age


Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonderandhome.com

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6 Responses

  1. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    My family has been in Louisville for close to 200 years and I have spent a lot of time in the last few months locating obituaries for deceased ancestors. I have been amazed how older obituaries would contain details about whatever illness claimed the person, give their home address, etc. It’s a lot different than today, when it is considered tacky to talk about how the person died and we don’t give out home addressed for privacy reasons. Still, for the amateur genealogist, I’m thrilled that attitudes were different back then. I now have a long list of addresses around town where I know my relatives lived, which means plenty of exploring to do on the weekend.Report

  2. fillyjonk fillyjonk says:

    I have no children (and that’s unlikely to change at this point), relatively few relatives younger than I am (a niece, a brother and sister in law, a few cousins and their kids, but my cousins and I are not that close). I suspect that unless I have a lot of “planning time,” whatever obituary I have will be somewhat minimal. That….doesn’t really bother me.

    I used to regularly read the obits in the paper my parents took; I realized pretty fast that you can judge how “important” a person was (or how “important” their family thought they were to the larger community) by the length and complexity of the obituary. I also have seen some that look to me like the person themselves wrote it in advance. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

    That said, I realized upon reading that Dehmlow obit, one of my never-admitted-to-myself goals/mottos in life is “live so that no one can say horrible things about you after you are dead.”Report

  3. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    Given the quality of printing technology available at the time, how did anyone ever think it was a good idea to have f and s distinguished only by a single serif?Report

    • Note that both forms of lower-case s appear in the example. Both forms had been in use for hundreds of years when the printing press arrived, with complex rules on when to use which form. Early printers would have naturally included it, simply because people expected it. Printers did eventually chase it out of use.Report

  4. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    I feel like we need a better way to pass around obituaries, and that the raw technology to do this better exists. But I don’t know what that is.

    It’s kind of like scientific journals or expensive textbooks. They both look a little odd and expensive these days.Report

  5. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    Gotta admit, reading that obit, that’s pretty tame compared to the one my wife would write about her mother. Sometimes, being abandoned is a blessing.Report