Obituary #atozchallenge


I spent a lot of time with my mother when I would go to Chicago on business. After she retired, she would still get up and have coffee with me before I left for work, and we would read the Chicago Tribune. I was most interested in the sports and some of the front section, while she would immediately turn to what we liked to call “the Irish sport pages,” i.e. the death notices. If a person was relatively famous (the owner of a business, an executive at one of the major employers, a member of the clergy, etc.) they would get an obituary, which would recount some of the highlights of the person’s life, charitable organizations the person worked for, as well as surviving family members and arrangements for the wake, funeral, and burial. If they weren’t, they just got a simple death notice, stating when and where they died, listing the person’s surviving relatives, and the funeral arrangements.

Some people don’t like to have obituaries and death notices published. There are people who read the obituaries and death notices with an eye toward visiting the home when they know no one will be there and burgling the place while the occupants are busy burying their dead. I think there’s a special circle in hell for people who do that.

Mom started reading the death notices after Dad died. A few months after he died, his Aunt Genevieve died. She had never married, so she was also Genevieve Holton. Mom was at work, sitting in the teachers’ lounge at break time, reading the death notices, and came across Aunt Genevieve’s. She announced to all there, “well, I guess I can go home, I just found my death notice.” Her fellow teachers didn’t find it as funny as she did.

I think that’s why people read the death notices: to see if anyone they know has died, and to make sure they aren’t there.

20 thoughts on “Obituary #atozchallenge

  1. I can tell you this. The older you get the more diligent you probably are about not missing the obituaries and death notices. In the last month or so I have come across at least four people who I knew; two former high school classmates, one old neighborhood guy, and the wife of an old friend. Kind of a gloomy past time!


  2. My much older sister, then in her later years, would call me (lived in different states).
    Me: “Hello?”
    Sis: “Billy? Hi. It’s me! Guess who died.”
    She never got my sense of humor, but I always wanted to start naming names when she did that. Nine times out of ten, I didn’t know who the deceased was.


  3. I don’t know which is worse, finding out someone you know died by reading an obit or from a friend or family member. Either way, it’s unfortunate, however, part of reality.


  4. I can’t believe how expensive it is to put an obituary in the paper! When my sister died it was several hundred dollars. My husband reads them routinely and shares with me anything he thinks I need to know.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yep, I am one of those who read the obits to make sure I’m not in them. I always breathe a sigh of relief when my name doesn’t appear. Unfortunately, more and more I am finding notices of my old school friends and business acquaintances. I guess what I’m saying is, reading the obituaries gives me a sense of my own mortality.


  6. Wow, I think that’s the worse chore anyone has to do for a loved one. The worst one I had to write was for my daughter, brother and my mom & dad. It’s just so sad. I’ve had to write others, but immediate family is just heart wrenching for me. Your Mom had a great sense of humor… I bust out laughing when you wrote how she said, “Well, I guess I can go home now etc….”! Too funny, but not in a way… sorry about your aunt. For me though I don’t read the obits… I find it a bit creepy! I’m originally from Chicago as you know. Happy to know we have something in common John. hugs & have a great day!!!


  7. I don’t read obits. I find that friends/family/acquaintances seem to want to call and tell me the news, so I let them. Interesting decision about whether to put your own obit in the paper/online somewhere– or not. Haven’t thought about that yet.


  8. My parents used to read the obituaries daily and now both are deceased. My in-laws still do. They still get the actual newspaper and will clip out the death notice if they think it is someone B or I knew. I prefer to find out word of mouth. Not sure why that is though.


  9. Obituaries used to be so wonderful – great, moving tributes to those who had passed. It’s changed now. When my mother died over ten years ago, it cost us over $800 to publish hers, and it wasn’t that lengthy! Now, a lot of folks simply list a link to the funeral home, where they post the obit.


  10. Newspaper obituaries were once the only notification available. Funeral homes are/were tremendously helpful in composing a painful message. Nowadays newspaper notices are cost prohibitive and folks tend to list names and ages of 47 survivors, rather than highlights of the life of the deceased. I think the ‘old’ way was better. Your Mom had a wonderful sense of humor! And what a great writing prompt 😉


  11. This hits close to h9,e since my mom died this year and, you know what, the newspapers take advantage of your grief. My mom came from the age where many people look at the actual newspapers instead of on the internet so we placed the ad in 2 newspapers since many people she knew lived in another nearby city. It cost us close to $800. I will never spend that money on an obituary again.


  12. “The Irish sport pages”… I got a chuckle out of that. I don’t read the obits unless I’ve already heard about someone passing and want to find the funeral information.


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