First, let me say I mean no disrespect to anyone who has died or the relative of anyone who has died. I’m just trying to understand why it works the way it works.
Every now and then I scan of the Obits in my local newspaper. Most of them are basically the same, a glowing description of the deceased with no bad points mentioned, a list of the surviving family, and directions where and when the funeral or memorial service is going to be held.
Obits are typically written about older people who one can safely assume died of natural causes, but that’s not always the case. There was one recently about an 18-year-old boy from a local high school who I had heard had committed suicide. His 10 paragraph Obit didn’t mention the cause of his death, and if I hadn’t known how the boy died I would have no idea reading his Obit. I knew he played high school football, I knew he had a family and a girlfriend, I even knew he had a dog, but there was no mention of how he died, and that seems a little odd to me.
Now before you say it’s because it’s none of my business I get that, and people have a right to keep certain information private, but if you’re going to spend a quarter of a page talking about everything there is to know about a person’s life it would be nice to know why they are no longer with us. For example, if someone dies after a long battle with cancer that’s one thing versus someone speeding through town intoxicated and slamming into a tree, even though the result in both cases is the same. Maybe their death is a cautionary tale, or maybe it’s just a sad fact that everyone dies sooner or later.
We live in a society where personal information is often shared with the public, just look at what people post on Facebook and Twitter. On the other hand, Obits make the reader come up with their own reason why someone died or have to ask around to see if anyone knows.
I guess my question is if it’s standard practice for someone to leave out the cause of death in an Obit, why is that the case? Is it a religious thing? Is it a United States thing? Are they embarrassed about how the person died? I don’t need to know all of the gory details, just the simple fact about why they are no longer living. Am I wrong? I agree that the family should decide, but why do families typically decide to leave that information out?