Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: snappylt on April 27, 2014, 11:46:41 PM

Title: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: snappylt on April 27, 2014, 11:46:41 PM
Earlier this week I received a friendly e-mail from someone i worked with years ago. He mentioned that he heard that "Wilma", a woman we both used to work with (and whom we both liked), had lost her husband to cancer last month.

I sent Wilma a letter to say that I was sorry to have heard the news of her loss.

This morning I got to thinking about Wilma and Fred again. I decided to look up Fred's obituary on their city's newspaper's website. It was a nice obituary, telling of Fred's accomplishments in his profession and in their community.

But one thing struck me as very odd: Wilma's adult sons and daughter from her first marriage (who were grown and out on their own before Fred and Wilma married) and their spouses were each mentioned by name as surviving Fred. BUT, Fred's own bio children by his first marriage were listed at the very end WITHOUT giving their names at all: "He was also survived by a son and a daughter."

I have no problem with listing Wilma's grown children by name as survivors; I just thought it odd to do that first and then not even give the names of Fred's own bio children.

When I read it it seemed to me like a sort of public slap in the face for the bio kids.

How does that come across to other people?

(And yes, I know that it is none of my business.  Wilma may have had a reason for excluding the bio kids names. I will certainly never ask her about it!  I'm just interested in what others here think.)
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: Katana_Geldar on April 27, 2014, 11:48:21 PM
I'm wondering if Wilma has some sort of agenda by excluding them.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: purple on April 27, 2014, 11:49:39 PM
Yeh, it seems odd.

But, you never know what's going on behind closed doors.  It could be something sinister or unsavoury within the family.  It could just be that those particular adults were not comfortable having their names published in the newspaper for some reason.   ???
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: katycoo on April 28, 2014, 12:57:08 AM
She may have also been assuming/known the bio-children would prepare their own obit.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: cicero on April 28, 2014, 01:10:30 AM
it's odd for a normal healthy family to do something like that. It's not odd if the family was in some way dysfunctional, estranged, etc., and the bio children didn't have a relationship with their father. And like Katycoo said, it's possible that the bio-children prepared their own obit.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: StarDrifter on April 28, 2014, 01:52:20 AM
same thing happened when my great grandfather passed, his second wife flatly refused to acknowledge the kids from his first marriage (my grandfather and his brothers) and told them not to bother putting their own obituary into the paper.
Pop ignored her and put one in, glad that he did because the way the one from her made it sound like his life hadn't started until he'd married her. Or that the 30 year gap between finishing high school and meeting her was just time he spent in a coma or something.
There could be any number of reasons, but that's what my mind jumps to. Of course other people could be right - but if the stepkids mentioned are the children of the surviving spouse then it could just be a person in mourning overlooking something that is not important *to them* in the obituary, especially if the second spouse did not have much to do with the bio kids.
But it kind of is bad form.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: Danika on April 28, 2014, 02:36:38 AM
I agree with those who say it's bad form. I think even if the bio-kids were estranged for some reason, it would be disrespectful to them and disingenuous to write out the step-children's full names and leave out the bio-kids' names.

It seems that Wilma wrote the obit, or someone who knew her, but didn't know Fred when he was younger.

If the bio-kids' names needed to be left out (by their request, or they didn't know the kids' names, etc.) then they should have just said "Fred was survived by two step-children and two children" or something to that effect.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: Ceallach on April 28, 2014, 02:58:35 AM
It is certainly odd and fuel for gossip.    I can't think of any reason they would do that if not to indicate some form of estrangement, either way it's certainly a public hint at dirty laundry.    As you say, nobody's business but theirs, but certainly eyebrow raising.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: guihong on April 28, 2014, 07:11:40 AM
The obituary was in Fred and Wilma's city.  Did Wilma's grown children live in that city also, and Fred's live in another area?  The only thing I can think of is that the obituary was charged by the line or by the word, and if Fred's children weren't local and not well known, they would have named Wilma's and not his.  Something similar happened when my father died in Oregon; in his local paper out there, he was "survived by two sons and a daughter".  In his hometown paper, we were named with our spouses.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: TootsNYC on April 28, 2014, 07:21:10 AM
If the obituary is charged by the line, there are other things you can cut. The difference is, what, four names (2 first, 2 last) and a couple of linking prepositions.

I think it's really bad form. Obituaries are supposed to be a sort of record.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: TurtleDove on April 28, 2014, 08:37:07 AM
I think it could be bad form, but I do think that circumstances matter.  People who knew the deceased would know that his bio kids were important to him and close with him, if they were.  People who knew the deceased would know that his current wife has issues with his bio kids, if she does.  The bio kids know they are children of their father, and if their stepmom deliberately slighted them, they have learned something about her.  Or maybe they have had nothing to do with their father for 30 years and are not affected by the wording of the obituary at all, while the stepkids have been extremely close with the deceased their entire lives.  Any of these scenarios, plus myriad others, could be true and I generally think it is none of my business and pointless to speculate - either I was close enough to the deceased to know what is going on, or I wasn't and it doesn't matter aside from gossipy prurient interest. 
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: Winterlight on April 28, 2014, 08:49:05 AM
I'm wondering if Wilma has some sort of agenda by excluding them.

That's how it appears to me, too.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: snowfire on April 28, 2014, 08:55:00 AM
I can totally see my Father's wife doing this. It would fit right in with a lot of other stunts she has pulled.
(No, I do not consider her my step-mother. ) My father & I get along okay when she is not trying her dirty tricks.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: m2kbug on April 28, 2014, 09:01:50 AM
My thought is that Fred's adult children may have severed relations with him.  If they weren't really around, why would they be given a greater presence in the obituary?  It sounds like Fred's stepchildren were involved in the funeral arrangements but not his children.  Where are they? Maybe something like that was at play here.  Otherwise, I lean in the direction that Wilma and/or her children had some sort of agenda or issues with Fred's bio kids.  I think if Fred's kids were involved and participatory, it's pretty lousy to leave them out like that.  I could see one of my stepsisters pulling a stunt like that.  I have no idea why she can't stand me. 
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: Ginger G on April 28, 2014, 09:03:26 AM
Even if they are estranged, it comes off as somewhat petty to me.  I had a friend whose father died and his second wife refused to make any mention of my friend and his brother in the obituary or the funeral program, just the two children she and the father had together.  They hadn't really seen much of their father in the preceeding years, but my friend and his brother were extremely hurt by this.  They were already grieving the loss of their father and knowing that any chance to repair the relationship was gone, and that was just further salt in the wound.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: TurtleDove on April 28, 2014, 09:13:21 AM
Even if they are estranged, it comes off as somewhat petty to me. 

I don't disagree, but we don't know the "whys" behind it all.  It could be the deceased himself asked that his bio children not be mentioned by name.  Or the bio children asked that they not be mentioned by name. 
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: TootsNYC on April 28, 2014, 09:57:17 AM
I think it could be bad form, but I do think that circumstances matter.  People who knew the deceased would know that his bio kids were important to him and close with him, if they were.  People who knew the deceased would know that his current wife has issues with his bio kids, if she does.  The bio kids know they are children of their father, and if their stepmom deliberately slighted them, they have learned something about her.  Or maybe they have had nothing to do with their father for 30 years and are not affected by the wording of the obituary at all, while the stepkids have been extremely close with the deceased their entire lives.  Any of these scenarios, plus myriad others, could be true and I generally think it is none of my business and pointless to speculate - either I was close enough to the deceased to know what is going on, or I wasn't and it doesn't matter aside from gossipy prurient interest.

The obituary is not for the people close to the deceased. It's to notify the greater world of the passing of a human being. And who he was connected to is the point of an obituary, so that people who see it will realize their neighbor, colleague, former classmate, etc., has lost a family member.

I really deplore the fact that obituaries are not anymore treated like news and instead are essentially advertisements.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: TurtleDove on April 28, 2014, 10:04:35 AM
The obituary is not for the people close to the deceased. It's to notify the greater world of the passing of a human being. And who he was connected to is the point of an obituary, so that people who see it will realize their neighbor, colleague, former classmate, etc., has lost a family member.

I really deplore the fact that obituaries are not anymore treated like news and instead are essentially advertisements.

My perspective is that the obituary *did* notify the greater world of the passing of a human being.  Either people knew the deceased and/or his relatives, in which case the obituary wouldn't change their opinion of him, or people did not know the deceased, in which case it seems gossipy and rude to speculate on the relationships between and among people you (general) don't know.

In my experience, an obituary may be shared publicly (like on facebook) to provide funeral details, but generally someone(s) close to the deceased shares the news of the passing with people they would like support from, and those people pass on the information in whatever circles are appropriate.  I have never trolled obituaries looking to see if anyone I know is listed so I can offer condolences.  I don't know of anyone who does!
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: TootsNYC on April 28, 2014, 10:09:34 AM
But I may be close enough to one of the kids that I'd like the opportunity to give my condolences, and yet still not close enough to be in immediate contact with them.

And I can easily still not know their father's name.

To me it's just a matter of completeness, not even of "ooh, he was estranged from his kids." It's bad form to leave out names of a person's direct children in this situation. Grandkids, sure, but names of first-degree relatives should be given.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: TurtleDove on April 28, 2014, 10:16:12 AM
But I may be close enough to one of the kids that I'd like the opportunity to give my condolences, and yet still not close enough to be in immediate contact with them.

And I can easily still not know their father's name.

To me it's just a matter of completeness, not even of "ooh, he was estranged from his kids." It's bad form to leave out names of a person's direct children in this situation. Grandkids, sure, but names of first-degree relatives should be given.

I don't disagree that it could be bad form to leave out the names.  I just tend to hear of someone's passing, whether it is "Sam Smith" or "Kelly's dad" or "Sue's brother" in the natural course of events - a direct phone call if I was close to the decedent or his family, an announcement at work if it is coworked or colleague related, an announcement to a facebook group for my gym or high school or college, or something similar.  I have never learned of someone I was close to or even knew tangentially via coming across an obituary in the newspaper.  I would think that would be a highly inefficient and morbid way to go about things!
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: Yvaine on April 28, 2014, 10:47:27 AM
But I may be close enough to one of the kids that I'd like the opportunity to give my condolences, and yet still not close enough to be in immediate contact with them.

And I can easily still not know their father's name.

To me it's just a matter of completeness, not even of "ooh, he was estranged from his kids." It's bad form to leave out names of a person's direct children in this situation. Grandkids, sure, but names of first-degree relatives should be given.

I don't disagree that it could be bad form to leave out the names.  I just tend to hear of someone's passing, whether it is "Sam Smith" or "Kelly's dad" or "Sue's brother" in the natural course of events - a direct phone call if I was close to the decedent or his family, an announcement at work if it is coworked or colleague related, an announcement to a facebook group for my gym or high school or college, or something similar.  I have never learned of someone I was close to or even knew tangentially via coming across an obituary in the newspaper.  I would think that would be a highly inefficient and morbid way to go about things!

It's morbid to read the obituaries and come across a name you know? I mean, I don't specifically seek out the obituaries and read them to the exclusion of the rest of the paper, but I don't necessarily skip them either. (Depends on how big a city's paper I'm reading, really. I just do a quick skim when I read BigCity's paper, because there are hundreds there, while I might read more thoroughly if I'm reading Small Hometown's paper. And yes, I have learned of people's deaths that way--not close friends, obviously, but people like old teachers and the like. We haven't remained in touch but I'm still glad to know (even as it's also sad news).

I think I get what Toots is saying about it being a record. When I think of all the people who came in when I worked at a library, looking at old obits because they were doing genealogical research--an ad like this could dead-end some descendant doing her research 100 years from now.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: TootsNYC on April 28, 2014, 11:06:17 AM
I don't generally read the obits. But every single time I have idly done so, I found the obit for a family member of someone I knew. Someone for whom my connection was such that I wouldn't necessarily have heard about the death until quite a bit later, if at all.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: heartmug on April 28, 2014, 11:40:59 AM
She may have also been assuming/known the bio-children would prepare their own obit.

That is what I was thinking.  They may have even told her that.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: TootsNYC on April 28, 2014, 11:53:58 AM
She may have also been assuming/known the bio-children would prepare their own obit.

That is what I was thinking.  They may have even told her that.

See, this is what I object to--why would there be more than one obit? It's just not logical. One person died, one obit. Not different versions. It's just not logical.

I know that's not how it is (anymore), now that people pay for them instead of newspapers regarding them as news. But it's not logical.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: Twik on April 28, 2014, 01:53:55 PM
It is certainly odd and fuel for gossip.    I can't think of any reason they would do that if not to indicate some form of estrangement, either way it's certainly a public hint at dirty laundry.    As you say, nobody's business but theirs, but certainly eyebrow raising.

Yes. It could have been done by a distraught widow by mistake, but it's bound to cause talk, about who has cut who. Certainly, it should not have been done deliberately except in the direst circumstances.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: Mikayla on April 28, 2014, 02:25:06 PM
I think it's guaranteed to draw attention and some second guessing.  If that's the intent, fine, but I'm having trouble coming up with a reasonable justification for wanting this, or even a reasonable assumption that the deceased would have wanted it.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: Redneck Gravy on April 28, 2014, 02:40:29 PM
My mother and her brother were left out of their father's obituary also - but his third child (a daughter with his second wife) and her children were mentioned.  My mother went to the newspaper and demanded a corrected obituary be printed in the following day's paper.  It was.

By the way, I'm still waiting on my share of the estate that is still not settled...he died in 1982.  I signed new documents in December 2013 to try and settle it.  His estate was tiny but his other daughter has done everything she legally can to delay having to share ANY of it.  Both my mother and her brother have since died - daughter #3 managed to outlive both of his other children.

I think I have mentioned this in a previous thread somewhere also - my grandfather's children and his grandchildren were never allowed to come to his home.  His second wife would not "allow" it, we saw him at a motel room we rented or at a pharmacy fountain where he worked.  Years after his death I was invited to her home.  I have always sworn it was because she was suddenly trying to get into heaven... 

       

 
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: turnip on April 28, 2014, 03:18:14 PM
I'll say frankly that I think all this speculation is what is rude.  I struggle to think of anything that is _less_ my business that what a grieving widow chooses to put in an obituary.   The fact that this has led to gossip makes the gossipers rude (IMHO), not the bereaved.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: TurtleDove on April 28, 2014, 03:23:28 PM
I'll say frankly that I think all this speculation is what is rude.  I struggle to think of anything that is _less_ my business that what a grieving widow chooses to put in an obituary.   The fact that this has led to gossip makes the gossipers rude (IMHO), not the bereaved.

Yes, this exactly.  You said it better than I was trying to.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: TootsNYC on April 28, 2014, 03:50:16 PM
I'll say frankly that I think all this speculation is what is rude.  I struggle to think of anything that is _less_ my business that what a grieving widow chooses to put in an obituary.   The fact that this has led to gossip makes the gossipers rude (IMHO), not the bereaved.

Nobody's gossiping; I don't consider the discussion we are having here to be gossip, and the OP isn't gossiping.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: bah12 on April 28, 2014, 03:52:26 PM
Even though it would strike me as odd, I'm sure that there are a million reasons why names would either be included or excluded.  The OP doesn't seem to know the circumstances or the relationships involved, so I don't really think it's worth the effort to speculate and wonder.  What's worse, is assuming that this was some sort of slight from Wilma to her late husband's kids.  For every sinister reason I can think of for this, I can think of a perfectly legitimate and explainable reason...so why automatically jump to the worse for Wilma?  Do you even know if she was the one that wrote the obit?
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: judecat on April 28, 2014, 03:53:09 PM
But I may be close enough to one of the kids that I'd like the opportunity to give my condolences, and yet still not close enough to be in immediate contact with them.

And I can easily still not know their father's name.

To me it's just a matter of completeness, not even of "ooh, he was estranged from his kids." It's bad form to leave out names of a person's direct children in this situation. Grandkids, sure, but names of first-degree relatives should be given.


I would not have wanted my name mentioned in my father's obituary,  as I would not have wanted condolences from random acquaintances, because when he passed it was not like I had lost anyone close to me.  My parents divorced when I was 14,  and I never even met his second wife or his step children.   He didn't just divorce his wife,  he divorced his children also.   So 40 odd years later while his passing was sad,  it was no more sad than when I heard an old neighbor had died.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: gramma dishes on April 28, 2014, 04:07:30 PM
I don't think anyone's gossiping here at all! 

I think we're all just trying to figure out why certain family members might have been omitted from an obituary and whether or not an etiquette faux pas has been committed there --  and if there is an etiquette 'rule' pertaining to that subject, under what circumstances might such an omission of the names of certain family members be okay.

Yes, it does require a bit of speculation, but the speculating contributes to our understanding of why and how such a seemingly objectional thing might legitimately occur.  We're not talking about this particular specific man and woman.  We're talking about obituaries in general.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: turnip on April 28, 2014, 04:12:06 PM

To clarify on the gossip, I was referring to this statement....

It is certainly odd and fuel for gossip.    I can't think of any reason they would do that if not to indicate some form of estrangement, either way it's certainly a public hint at dirty laundry.    As you say, nobody's business but theirs, but certainly eyebrow raising.

'fuel for gossip' is not the same as 'rude'.   I think this is no one's business besides the families and if a friend came to me and said "Can you believe so-and-so wasn't mentioned in the obit" I'd bean dip my way out of there.   It just seems so deliberately unkind to turn this in to an excuse for digging and speculation.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: TurtleDove on April 28, 2014, 04:17:41 PM
It just seems so deliberately unkind to turn this in to an excuse for digging and speculation.

Yep.  I feel like if you truly knew and cared about the deceased or their family, there would be no need for speculation because you would know.  And if you were not close enough with the deceased or their family to know and instead felt the need to speculate, I guess I just question why.  For what purpose? 
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: Mikayla on April 28, 2014, 04:27:45 PM
It just seems so deliberately unkind to turn this in to an excuse for digging and speculation.

Yep.  I feel like if you truly knew and cared about the deceased or their family, there would be no need for speculation because you would know.  And if you were not close enough with the deceased or their family to know and instead felt the need to speculate, I guess I just question why.  For what purpose?

There doesn't need to be a purpose.  It's human nature.  I think anytime someone does something against the norm, speculation is a given.  It's how the speculation is handled that determines rudeness. 

I would read this and wonder why.  Not rude.  If someone else reads it and calls the family up to get the lowdown, yes this is rude. 

IMO, the purpose of an obit is twofold.  It's to announce the death and also to honor the deceased, if the family wants this as bio type format.  Anything that detracts from this is generally not a good idea.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: bah12 on April 28, 2014, 04:33:29 PM
I think speculation is something that just comes naturally so I'm not sure if I would call it rude.  Often, though, when I find myself speculating it just seems like wasted energy.  Maybe it can't be helped and maybe it can, but it's still a waste.

I don't think there's a 'rule' for writing obits (at least I couldn't find a common one when it came to a quick google search I just did), just lots of advice that I'm sure is complicated by family dynamics.  So, for me, I wouldn't blame anyone from wondering why the names were excluded, but would think that if they were close enough to Fred and Wilma they'd already know if there's a legitimate explanation or if Wilma (still not sure how we know it was her that wrote it) is just being mean-spirited and trying to throw one last slap in the face to her late husbands kids while she can.

I do, however, think it's extremely unkind and unproductive to assume the worst of people.  So, I am put off when I see statements that first target Wilma as being rude, petty, or with an agenda.  The OP isn't close enough to this situation to know the answer and it would be rude of her to ask about it, I think. It's safe to say that we'll never know the answer.

Debating on the general question about whether or not it would be rude , generically, to leave a child's name off the obit might be boring. I think most of us would agree that there are circumstances where it would be ok (I wouldn't force a name in the paper if the individual didn't want it there) and circumstances where it would be rude (doing so out of malice).
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: kherbert05 on April 28, 2014, 05:40:28 PM
It come off petty to me and reflects badly on the wife - because people will make assumptions. Unless he did not want his kid named. That can be tricky.

When my uncle died his obit - started with Jim is dead. My poor sister, who had recommended the funeral home, went into a panic. She thought that my Aunt who had aphasia had said this and it had ended up in the obit by mistake. Thankfully she called me first. I reminded her our uncle always said that is what he wanted his obit to say. Later my cousin posted that the line was not a mistake they were following her father's wishes. They apparently had people who were upset because they thought the paper had made an error.

People of the same degree of relationship should be listed the same way. [size=78%]When my Nanna died the obit listed her husband (who predeceased her) all her children (2 predeceased her), all the spouses including the Husband of her deceased daughter, and my Dad (her son-in-law) who had predeceased her, her siblings (living) and parents (dead) That was 25 maybe 30 people.  There was no way to list all the grandchildren/spouses and great-grandchildren. We would have had to take out a half page ad to do that -- we number somewhere near 60 with both groups. The uncle that was in charge of the obit made a point of telling us that stepkids including Older Niece. were included in the [/size]appropriate[size=78%] count. Her nieces and nephews (regular, great, and great grand) were simply listed as numerous because honestly no-one was ready to count that high (with all 3 degrees has to be 100 at least)[/size]
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: sammycat on April 28, 2014, 07:32:51 PM
I'm wondering if Wilma has some sort of agenda by excluding them.

That's how it appears to me, too.

And me.

My very first thought upon reading the OP was 'what does Wilma have against her stepkids?'.  She may or may not be warranted in her actions, but looking at it from a stranger's point of view, she's the one who comes out looking bad. It basically comes across as airing her dirty laundry in public.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: LifeOnPluto on April 28, 2014, 10:23:15 PM
Are we talking about an obituary (which is normally a biography of the deceased - sometimes just a few paragraphs, sometimes a whole page depending on how famous they were) or a death notice (which is normally just a few lines, and anyone - friend or family - can put one in)?

If the former (an actual obit), than I do think the stepmother (assuming she wrote it) was very rude and heartless in not naming the bio-children. The only reasons I can think of to exclude their names would be if: (a) the deceased insisted he did NOT want them named; or (b) the bio-kids stated they did not want to be named.

If it's the latter (just a death notice), I don't think it's rude. Death notices are normally done by individual families, and it's probable that the adult bio-kids would do a separate one anyway.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: kareng57 on April 28, 2014, 11:42:22 PM
But I may be close enough to one of the kids that I'd like the opportunity to give my condolences, and yet still not close enough to be in immediate contact with them.

And I can easily still not know their father's name.

To me it's just a matter of completeness, not even of "ooh, he was estranged from his kids." It's bad form to leave out names of a person's direct children in this situation. Grandkids, sure, but names of first-degree relatives should be given.


I disagree. My late Dh's brother cut ties with us a number of years prior to Dh's death.  There was therefore no reason to mention him in the obiturary.  If someone declares that he/she is no longer family - that's their choice.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: MariaE on April 29, 2014, 12:47:15 AM
But I may be close enough to one of the kids that I'd like the opportunity to give my condolences, and yet still not close enough to be in immediate contact with them.

And I can easily still not know their father's name.

To me it's just a matter of completeness, not even of "ooh, he was estranged from his kids." It's bad form to leave out names of a person's direct children in this situation. Grandkids, sure, but names of first-degree relatives should be given.

I don't disagree that it could be bad form to leave out the names.  I just tend to hear of someone's passing, whether it is "Sam Smith" or "Kelly's dad" or "Sue's brother" in the natural course of events - a direct phone call if I was close to the decedent or his family, an announcement at work if it is coworked or colleague related, an announcement to a facebook group for my gym or high school or college, or something similar.  I have never learned of someone I was close to or even knew tangentially via coming across an obituary in the newspaper.  I would think that would be a highly inefficient and morbid way to go about things!

Morbid or not, that was how my in-laws discovered that my grandmother died - because the death notice listed names of children and grandchildren. I hadn't thought to tell them myself yet, but I was extremely touched by the letter of condolence they sent me - in fact especially because I hadn't gotten around to telling them yet, but they'd discovered it themselves and thought of me.
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: Ceallach on April 29, 2014, 12:59:37 AM

To clarify on the gossip, I was referring to this statement....

It is certainly odd and fuel for gossip.    I can't think of any reason they would do that if not to indicate some form of estrangement, either way it's certainly a public hint at dirty laundry.    As you say, nobody's business but theirs, but certainly eyebrow raising.

'fuel for gossip' is not the same as 'rude'.   I think this is no one's business besides the families and if a friend came to me and said "Can you believe so-and-so wasn't mentioned in the obit" I'd bean dip my way out of there.   It just seems so deliberately unkind to turn this in to an excuse for digging and speculation.

Well I don't know if it's actually lead to gossip or not having absolutely no information other than the OP, but if it's a community inclined towards gossip (which many are) it certainly provides fuel for it.   My point was simply that if there is some sort of estrangement they're not making any effort to hide it. 
Title: Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
Post by: baglady on April 29, 2014, 09:56:28 PM
I can think of lots of reasons why the bio-offspring would not be named in an obit, and only one of them is spite toward them on the widow(er)'s part.

It could be that the deceased himself, or the bio-offspring themselves, didn't want the names mentioned. This could be either because of a nasty, acrimonious estrangement, or a case of the bio-parent graciously stepping aside to let ex's new spouse raise the kids as mom/dad -- with or without legally terminating parental rights.

Or it could be the widow(er) tailoring the obit to the local paper's readership -- who don't have any connection to the deceased's bio-kids, so their names aren't relevant.

I worked at small-town newspapers in the 1980s/early '90s, and we ran obituaries-as-news-stories on everyone local who died, unlike big-city papers who only ran them on prominent people. But because they were free, they were very formulaic: Only immediate family members got named. So if you were the longtime live-in lover of the deceased, or the grandniece who lived with him and cared for him in his last years, you would not be mentioned by name in the obit.

These days, those same papers charge for obits, but people can write whatever they want, and name (or not name) whomever they want. I like that better, even if (a) it costs money, and (b) some people might get slighted by the family members writing the obit. People got slighted back in the days of free obits -- it was just the paper's call back then, and not the family's.