Write an Obituary – Be Sensitive About the Family Members
Writing an Obituary can have some complexities.
Recently I was asked what to do whether the obit writer should mention two grandchildren thatcame into the family via a second marriage. The questioner said: “The boys are 14 and 22 and I know that they and their mom will feel slighted if they’re not mentioned.” She was asking because other family members thought they should be left out because they were not biologically related to the grandmother. Of course, I responded that they should be included! Just because they aren’t blood relatives doesn’t mean they weren’t a part of their grandmother’s life and she of their life. Please, please, name them in the obit.
The problem with extended families, new families, step families, and blended families is often that it confuses the people who are about to write an obituary for a person with any or all of the above family categories. I would suggest that you don’t worry about what the rules might be and instead focus on what can be said that will help grieving people feel better. If you are wondering what to do about putting in people’s names, I would suggest that you always err on the side of too many names rather than not enough. If you decide to have the children, be sure to have all the children regardless of whether they are biological, adopted, foster, or step. The same rule applies for siblings and for grandchildren when you write an obituary.
Please don’t leave someone out because of a fight that is going on when you write an obituary. Remember they are a part of the family. If you know that it will upset a portion of the family, then perhaps the expedient thing to do is not to put the family names in at all. Instead insert a phrase like: “survived by many loving family members and close friends”. You will then have left it up to the imagination of all to decide which ones are the loving family members.
I have been a part of a family in which family members were fighting at the time of the death of a close family relative. The obit was published without everyone being included. There were hurt feelings. The obit was adjusted for the following day but the damage was done. So I am very sensitive about who should be included when you write an obituary.
The obit is written for the people who read it. Make sure that any family members – no matter how tenuous the connection in your mind – will be included and will feel a part of the group.