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28 February 2015

What Obituaries Leave Out

Family written obituaries provided to newspapers can leave out as much as they include. Previous spouses may not be included, children can be left out, which spouse was the parent of which surviving children may not be clear, individuals listed as children may not be biological children. One relative of mine had an obituary that did not list his three children by a first marriage  and only listed three of his four living children with his second wife.

And that survivor, Fluffy--it may be a cat even if it is not stated as such.


  1. When my Dad died a year and a half ago, I had the funeral director breathing down my neck to give him the obituary while we were in his office making all the arrangements. Going by memory I got all the names, relationships and dates correctly, but made an error on his military service. I regret that I didn't tell the director that I was going to work on it overnight. I didn't realize that I'd made the error until I saw it printed in the newspaper three days later. The error wasn't the worst one I could have made, but I bowed to the pressure to get it done immediately for the convenience of the funeral director, rather than taking the time to properly honor my Father.

  2. I heard of a couple who announced at their 50th anniversary party that they were divorcing. It split the family and when one spouse died, only the children that "sided" with that parent were listed in the obituary.

  3. When my uncle died, his family put in the names of his brothers that died 80+years ago in their infancy or at birth. He never knew them obviously. If someone read his obituary and then his surviving siblings obituaries you'd be totally confused with why the others weren't mentioned. When it came to write my mother's I put adult siblings.

  4. My father wrote his own obituary at least 10 years prior to his death. That was a gift.