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Author Topic: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?  (Read 14737 times)

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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.)


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I'm wondering if Wilma has some sort of agenda by excluding them.


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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.   ???


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She may have also been assuming/known the bio-children would prepare their own obit.


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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.

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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.
... it might frighten them.


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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.


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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.
"Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something"


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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.


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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.


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Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
« Reply #10 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. 


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Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
« Reply #11 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.
If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.
Caroline Lake Ingalls


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Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
« Reply #12 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.


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Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
« Reply #13 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. 

Ginger G

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Re: Including the stepkids' names but NOT the bio-kids' names in obituary?
« Reply #14 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.