Do you want to be informed if a relative/friend whom you haven't talked to in years passes away?

Okay, I realize this sounds cruel, but I really don’t want to know if someone I haven’t been in contact for years/decades passes away. I want to remember them as I last saw/thought of them.

When my Mom passed away a couple of years ago, my siblings and I discussed whether we should inform our relatives, many of whom we haven’t been in contact for years/decades about her passing. Her two remaining sisters were both mentally deficient (dementia/Alzheimers) and I happened to talk to her one remaining brother at my house when he stopped by to tell her his former wife passed away. When I told him she was in a care home, his only response was “Oh yeah?” and continued to talk about his illnesses.

We finally decided to tell only one uncle on my Dad’s side because my brother happened to meet him while she was in the care home and my brother had to keep in contact with him to get instructions and permission to open the family shrine to put her cremains in. We didn’t even have a funeral ceremony since it would only be the siblings.

Even if I wasn’t the youngest, I would feel no obligation to represent the family at a funeral, telling people, “Oh, I’m so sorry for your loss.”, while thinking, I haven’t seen you in 20 years and really haven’t thought about your or your family in all that time.

There seems to me there would be no reason to contact people who havn’t been in your life in years.
OTOH when Daddy died people came out of the woodwork to his service. People I hadn’t thought about in years. Apparently Daddy was in contact with them though. Sometimes you just don’t know.

I would want to know. Like Beckdawrek says, sometimes you just don’t know.

Now, if you DO know that there’s been no contact, and that the reason is something painful and destructive done by family that is still living, then perhaps the new contact would itself be frightening, and for that reason it would be better not to reach out, IMHO. But if there’s been no contact because of something done by the recently deceased, then it could be really helpful or freeing or something to let the distant people know, and it would be better to let them know, also IMHO.

I would.

If it’s someone I’d rather not be related to, it’s nice to know. And if it’s someone that I haven’t seen or talked to in yoinks because we only see each other at baptisms, weddings and funerals, it’s nice to know. Some of the reasons why it’s nice to know are common to both cases (possibility of running into condolence-givers), others are different.

When my grandmother died, my aunt decided that she wasn’t going to inform any of the cousins and that there would be no funeral. I was in the other end of Europe; mom was being prepped for surgery; my brothers figured the living old woman had priority over the dead old woman. Aunt was furious that nobody attended the burial. What did she expect, a military band?

Sure, if only to keep my genealogy database up to date.

I’ve been to some funerals of people I hadnt seen in 30 years or more. I also keep in contact with a guy who retired from work years ago just to let him know when an old friend dies.

I dont think it hurts to tell.

I would want to know.

For me, all of my relatives or friends from the past are positive relationships. My family doesn’t do the “never talking to you ever again!” type of situations.

That said, I can see where other people have different experiences where they would not want to dredge up old negative experiences.

So, for me I would want to know. As you get older, having not spoken to someone in 30 years is just an unfortunate blip of time, something you have been meaning to take care of but don’t get around to.

It’s so heavily dependent on the relationship and the reason (if any) for the lack of communication that it’s impossible to give a pat answer.

It’s not as if my Mom lost contact with her sisters and brother because of anything negative. Her sisters succumbed to dementia/alzheimers years before her passing and often wouldn’t recognize her when she visited and her brother would contact her every few years just to check in. It may seem heartless to some, but I’ve clearly told my siblings (whom I was estranged from for 20+ years and now meet for dinner once a year), that I won’t attend their funeral service as I’ve known them all my life and there’s no reason for a goodbye which they can’t hear.

My siblings and cousins are all in their 60’s/70’s+ and have their families to care for. All four grandparents are long gone and there’s been no extended family reunions in decades. It’s simple logistics. Family gatherings were always Mom’s family or Dad’s family, never together and as my cousins got older and had their parents and parent-in-law’s gatherings to attend, they stopped coming.

On the other hand, when my Dad passed unexpectedly (major heart attack) at 66, I initiated a call to our close family friends (two brothers) in Japan because they were treated by my Mom and Dad as if they were part of the family when we lived in Japan. I saw them 3-4 times in the 20 years since we left Japan, always when they visited Hawaii. We never returned to Japan. I told my Mom that the would be upset if they weren’t told and my Mom said that’s exactly what they said when she called. The immediately came to Hawaii for my Dad’s private (family only) viewing and were pallbearers as we placed his casket in the crematory retort.

I do want to know. Last year my only living relative outside of my children passed away. He and my dad had a falling out 40 years ago and there had been no contact since. When his daughter called to let me know, she asked me to tell my sons. Evidently he and my sons had found each other on Facebook and had been communicating for several years.

As stated above. You never know.

I would want to be informed, but through an impersonal means like a letter. I wouldn’t want to be told by someone in person and have to deal with a bunch of emotions. There are reasons I don’t speak to certain relatives. I wouldn’t want to have to feel like I have to be understanding with the person who is telling me the news. Even if they are close to that relative doesn’t mean I am. So although I’d like to be informed, I’d like it to happen in a way that I wouldn’t feel like I had to reply unless I wanted to.

I just remembered. The first thing both my grandfather’s would read in their daily paper was the obituaries, checking to see if anyone they knew or in their family had passed away. They’d then prep their suit, tie and shirt and shoes days ahead and would always want to be one of the first at the service.

When I get my monthly college alumni magazine, I always check the obits first. A few years ago I learned that a guy I hated in high school had died in the early 90s, and enjoyed contemplating whether it was from a DWI or opiate overdose. Always look forward to wishing an old acquaintance down to the fiery pit.

I have two younger brothers who, for various reasons, have decided they no longer want to communicate with the rest of the family. That’s their choice, and I would prefer to know if and when they join the choir invisible.

I found out in late November that a deceased friend’s mom died back in April. I kind of wish I hadn’t heard. She has a surviving son that I never knew well. I kind of wish I could have gone to her funeral as a remembrance of my friend. When I was in my teens and early twenties their house was kind of a hangout for “our gang”. We could smoke and drink and get high there, and we ate a lot of their food! There were other issues that kind of left me with mixed feelings. But they (she and her also deceased husband) were good to us.

I’ll just see them in Hell.

My Mom and her sister were really close. I saw a lot of both of them. They had a younger brother that was diagnosed with cancer at one point. I asked at some later point “Hey, how’s Uncle Billy-Bob doing with his cancer?”
“Oh, he died a couple of years ago.”
Granted, I was never close to this uncle but still I felt a little bad that they never mentioned it to me.

I’m curious as to the age demographics of those who say they would want to be informed (which are the majority so far) versus those who who don’t or are neutral.

At nearly 60, there are (to my knowledge) only 4 out of 18 paternal & maternal blood relations (i.e. brothers and sister) still living and the youngest is in his mid to late '80’s, and my blood cousins range in age from the same as mine to nearly 30 years older. So to hear of anyone’s passing wouldn’t be a surprise or a concern at all.

Edit: Just remembered, I do have one cousin about 10 years younger than me, whom I haven’t talked to or seen in over 40 years.

Also because of the large age gap between myself and the majority of my cousins, which averages out to about 15 years, are nearly a generation apart from me, with my never having heard about, talked to, or met the majority of their children. I’d be no more than a stranger on the street to them at a funeral.

Yes. It’s good to know. For example, I had no idea, nor did I care, if my mother was alive years after she decided to split. I knew she would be rather old. I finally received word she died three years ago in her 80s. I had no emotional reaction whatsoever, but it was good to know one way or the other.