Death Notices


March 10, 2010 by Marj Hatzell

I have this strange obsession with reading the Obits in the paper. These days I can read them online but I always, ALWAYS check out the obits first. Before the Opinion section, before the actual news. I don’t know why.

I read them and I see their life accomplishments. I see the legacy they left behind.  I read the long list (or short list) of survivors. Often there is an address to donate in lieu of flowers.  I like that idea, mostly because dead people don’t need flowers and their loved ones don’t need to deal with fifty baskets of dying flowers on their dining room table, either.

The best obits I’ve ever read are from Salt Lake City, Utah. The first time I visited my husband’s sister out there I sat and read them as I sipped my tea in the morning and nearly choked.  You HAVE to check these out!  These people know how to do it right, I’m telling you.  It’s good stuff, almost like reading mini novels.  It’s a pretty nice tribute to dead people.

It might be a sick fascination but I’ve done it since I was a kid. My Dad and I would race home to see who would get to the cryptogram and crossword puzzle first.  Sometimes he would let me win.  Most times we’d sit and do it together (I also learned from his mother, my Beloved Nana).  We also read the obits, as he explained what some of it meant (nee means “used to be known as” or “born”).  I was also a bit obsessed with death at this age, having attended several funerals for great aunts and uncles and finally my grandfathers, a few months apart in the same year when I was ten.  It didn’t scare me but I was quite curious about the whole process.  It also didn’t make any sense to me that people have these bizarre rituals when people die.  Looking at dead bodies at a viewing?  Putting them in fancy boxes and people leave stuff in the coffin?  I just don’t get it. As my husband says, “Funerals are for the LIVING not the dead”.  When people say, “He would have wanted it this way!”  I always think, “I’m pretty sure  he TOTALLY DOES NOT CARE !”  Not that I’m being irreverent. I’m just pretty sure he doesn’t care.  Dude, he’s dead.

The husband and I have our wishes clearly defined.  He wants no funeral but a brief memorial is ok. He wants to be cremated and then he said he doesn’t care what I do.  I asked him if I could scatter them someplace (n.b: ashes DO NOT SCATTER. TRUST ME.  They…clump.) like at our family cabin, where he spent the happiest years of his life so far. He’s all, “Whatevs.”  Me?  I think I’ll donate a few organs, I’m fairly certain that I won’t need them when I’m dead.  Then my family can decide if they want a burial, cremation, etc, etc.  I don’t really care at that point, I think.

Anyways, not to start your day off on a morbid note.  I just think about this stuff quite a bit.  And when you have a kid like mine, all of this needs to be planned out. WELL PLANNED.  Like, special needs trust and all that.

And now you’re all, “Ooooookaaaaaay DG. “

8 thoughts on “Death Notices

  1. rockle says:

    I am called “The Obituary Girl” at work because I always scan the news several times a day and report on celebrity deaths. And my husband and I have had many a conversation about our final wishes. I told him I wanted to be composted, but I don’t think that’s going to work. Also, I have prepared a list of songs I want played at my funeral/memorial service/wake/going away party. He thinks I’m insane. I told him if he doesn’t honor my long-distance dedications, I will haunt him forever. I know people, I have connections, and I will FIND WAYS, oh yes I will.

  2. I read them too!

    I want a memorial and to be cremated…but don’t want to be ‘Grandma on the mantle’ as my friend calls it. Bury my ashes somewhere. My grandparents had EVERYTHING arranged, including who was to do the little luncheon afterwards. I don’t think my aunt and uncles had to do much for the actual funeral and burial…it was after. But they also had what was to happen with their estate completely laid out and it was split so fairly that I couldn’t believe it.

    This is timely…Corey Haim died today…so sad, he was only 38 years old.

  3. RuthWells says:

    It is absolutely necessary to plan these things ahead of time. NOT morbid.

    And thanks for mentioning organ donation.

  4. Cel says:

    My DH reads them everyday. We’ve found out about friends or their parents who’ve passed that we probably wouldn’t have found out about! And, when you get near MY age, sadly, there are A LOT of funerals to go to. Right now, it’s mostly parents of friends, but now and then a friend also. Sad time of life.

    We both have already written everything out AND have made prearrangements with a funeral director. DG, if you haven’t done THAT, you should. It takes the pressure off the family who will probably end up fighting about something :). This way, it’s all paid (no extra fees if we live loooooooong!). All written down. We too are being cremated and then a memorial service. We also have plots bought. Don’t forget that part!

    After working in the funeral home business for 12 yrs, I know the importance of these things…

  5. HG says:

    I’m a “harvest everything useful from me and burn the rest” kind of girl. Buried, not scattered.

  6. Amanda says:

    I read the obits too. I was fascinated that in our Sunday paper last week there was over 2 spreads of them. The area’s not that big.

  7. Kassi says:

    I don’t think it is morbid to read the obituaries. They were written to be read. It’s good that someone does.

  8. Wow, I thought I was the only one who did that! Great to see I’m not alone in my obit obsession!! :o)

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