"Curiosity killed the cat" - I have to ask...

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Posted 2/15/2013 by pheestand in NSBR Board
 

pheestand
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Posted: 2/15/2013 8:54:35 AM
In 99.999% of the obituaries I read, it is very rare that the obituary indicates the reason for death.

I read an online newspaper from where I'm originally from to keep up on my hometown. In today's obituaries, a young man (32 yrs old) died as a "result from injuries sustained from an auto accident". That's the first, well maybe second one I've seen. Sometimes, when the family remarks about "in lieu of flowers, donations in Bob Smith's name appreciated to the American Lung Association", it's possible to surmise that the reason for death was lung or cancer related.

Especially when using obituaries in ancestry research, the reason for death would be helpful. I guess it never occurred to me.

I wouldn't have issue if my reason for death was spelled out in a newspaper obituary. What do you suppose the reason for not doing so would be?

(Yes, I'm very inexperienced in this- I'm not asking to be disrespectful, just curiosity)


voltagain
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Posted: 2/15/2013 8:59:13 AM
I think in most cases those who are close to the family know why they died and the public doesn't really need to know.


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justalittletike
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Posted: 2/15/2013 9:04:26 AM
I think because the point is announcing death not reason of death in general so people know they are gone. I think overall the actual reason wouldn't matter.


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ginacivey
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Posted: 2/15/2013 9:16:34 AM
i can see your point

historically speaking...it might be useful if obits contained the cause of death

but i suppose you can find that by getting a copy of a death certificate

i think people are generally nosy...i freely admit i've wondered about cause of death on obits of younger people

gina

Annabella
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Posted: 2/15/2013 9:23:53 AM

In 99.999% of the obituaries I read, it is very rare that the obituary indicates the reason for death.



Yes this irks me as well! I read the paper at work and sometimes end up on the obit page. It fascinates me because I see large color photographes, sometimes young people, but instead of telling me anything useful like 1)how they died, 2)their personality/acheievements in life, all it does is lists a whole paragraph of every distant relative's name, to which I think who cares! Sure mention if you left behind children, but 20 relatives names, I just don't see the point.

"in lieu of flowers, donations in Bob Smith's name appreciated to the American Lung Association", it's possible to surmise that the reason for death was lung or cancer related.



Yep saw this yesterday for the first time of a 19 year old, her parents ask to donate money to an eating disorder association.

I read a local blog for 20-30s in my city and they said a popular club promoter's 16 year old son died, but no cause of death. If someone under the age of 35 dies, I am so so so curious as to how. I don't understand why this is such a hush hush thing? I get it if you don't want to say suicide or AIDS, but my guess is it's more likely to be a car accident. I realize this is a sensitive topic, but since we're just discussing our curiousity here, this drives me crazy! lol




MrsScrapDiva
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Posted: 2/15/2013 9:33:26 AM
I am curious about these things too.

Sister BDSQ
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Posted: 2/15/2013 9:37:30 AM
So would, "Shot himself in the head and left behind his family" have been what you would have wanted to see in the last obituary I was mentioned in?
While many people would be curious, it's nunya.

Annabella
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Posted: 2/15/2013 9:40:27 AM
Sister BDSQ - I said I understand if people don't want to mention suicide, but I'm sure that makes up a small percentage of deaths. Here's the type of obit I would like to read. Tells me about his life, I assume they mentioned his schools so that anyone would reading would know that's the person they knew and can plan to attend the funeral, and the cause of his untimely death.




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Posted: 2/15/2013 9:41:39 AM
The trend could then spread to the wedding announcements!

Due to the impending birth of their first child...


or

So that she may now be kept in the style to which she would like to become accustomed...



Happiness looks good on everyone!

Sister BDSQ
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Posted: 2/15/2013 9:46:38 AM

Sister BDSQ - I said I understand if people don't want to mention suicide, but I'm sure that makes up a small percentage of deaths. Here's the type of obit I would like to read. Tells me about his life, I assume they mentioned his schools so that anyone would reading would know that's the person they knew and can plan to attend the funeral, and the cause of his untimely death.

Wow, that's a violent death too. One of the best ones I ever read was for my former boss. Another obit
And while it was beautiful and informative, it didn't mention cause of death. I know what it is, but it's not necessary to reveal it to the masses. I prefer the "here's what this person contributed to the world" style of obit, but I don't really need to know the cause of death. Maybe it's kind of like putting the place where people are registered in the invite to showers. That's frowned on in peadom.


So that she may now be kept in the style to which she would like to become accustomed...
BWAHAHA!

alittleintrepid
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Posted: 2/15/2013 9:48:18 AM
U think the answer is that people want to celebrate the life of the deceased rather than focus on the death. However, I don't think it's uncommon to see something like "After a long and brave battle with cancer, Mrs. X passed away in her home...."

I also wonder if sometimes it's not included because it's not so clear. For example, if one dies from pnemonia which was fatal because of an already compromised immune system, would the pnemonia (ACTUAL cause of death) really be significant?

pheestand
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Posted: 2/15/2013 9:57:25 AM

So would, "Shot himself in the head and left behind his family" have been what you would have wanted to see in the last obituary I was mentioned in?
While many people would be curious, it's nunya.


No, not at all. I'm not saying to broadcast a horrific, violent event in that manner. I was more referring to an extended illness, or a peaceful passing, or even an untimely accident. While the family's privacy should always be respected, indicating that a person died after a long time struggle with Alzheimers, or cancer, or whatever the cause just seems like such a hush-hush thing.



Annabella
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Posted: 2/15/2013 10:01:10 AM

I was more referring to an extended illness, or a peaceful passing, or even an untimely accident. While the family's privacy should always be respected, indicating that a person died after a long time struggle with Alzheimers, or cancer, or whatever the cause just seems like such a hush-hush thing.



Agreed. I guess I do understand people saying they want to celebrate life, but there's just this burning question I have inside of me that I can't ask out loud.

Sister BDSQ - thanks for sharing that, can I assume he passed of a heart attack?




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Posted: 2/15/2013 10:23:15 AM
In our paper I see a lot of obits with remarks such as ...

after an extended illness

after a brave fight with cancer (I used something similiar for my dd in '86)

after a long battle with Alzheimers

unexpectedly/suddenly

result of an auto accident

All these were in yesterdays newspaper.

About 75% of the ones I see have cause of death or a hint of it in the 'story'.


~ "full price is a F-word" ~

khazlett
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Posted: 2/15/2013 10:26:06 AM
The cause of death used to be listed in most of the obits. I admit a curiosity as I lived in a small town and knew a lot of people and their extended family.

I saw a change to omitting the cause of death when AIDS started killing so many. No, it is no one's business but it is also not a dirty shameful secret like it used to be. I lost a brother-in-law to AIDS and he was the kindest caring person I knew. He wanted the cause of death listed to start showing the tragedy of this disease and that he was human and not just "one of those people".

scrappower
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Posted: 2/15/2013 10:26:10 AM
Death is extremely personal for most people. I personally respect their rights to privacy. If they wanted to put it in the obit they would.



melanell
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Posted: 2/15/2013 10:32:21 AM
Now I often do see the reason mentioned, particularly with cancer. Many times you will read "....after a brave battle with cancer".


Others often say things along the lines of "after a prolonged illness".



rtwig
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Posted: 2/15/2013 10:33:21 AM
I think Dear Abby addressed this question many years ago. Her answer was that is really isn't any of our business. And just think if an unkind or very upset person wrote it you could end up with something like drank himself to death over the last 20 years while causing misery for his family.

Dear Abby said it better, but that was the general idea.

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Posted: 2/15/2013 10:38:35 AM
Growing up, from the time I was 8 or 9, I always read the obituaries and it used to be FAR more common to list a cause of death. I really have noticed in the past 8 or so years that it has gotten to the point where it is almost never noted.

Reading about the highlights of the life of another was very interesting to me and gave me huge insights into how other people live.



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Posted: 2/15/2013 10:44:47 AM

Death is extremely personal for most people. I personally respect their rights to privacy. If they wanted to put it in the obit they would.



ITA. With access to so much info today, people think they are entitled to know everything. Your curiosity is not my problem. You're not entitled to know. There is no reason for you to know.



all it does is lists a whole paragraph of every distant relative's name, to which I think who cares! Sure mention if you left behind children, but 20 relatives names, I just don't see the point.


The reason to include all the people they left behind is honor those people. To show the person meant something to someone. To let people who *really care* know to whom they can reach out b/c these people are actually GRIEVING. How they died means nothing to the people who actually cared about them and for whom they are more than a minute's curiosity. B/c they are gone and how is irrelevant. If you read the obituary and it doesn't give info you care about, then it probably isn't there for you.



OK. Newbie. This is how it works. If your post consists of 80% sanity, 10% stupidity and 10% all kinds of crazy, we immediately focus on the 20% b/c it discredits the 80%.




Sister BDSQ
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Posted: 2/15/2013 11:10:37 AM

Sister BDSQ - thanks for sharing that, can I assume he passed of a heart attack?

Yes, in his office.

MikeWozowski
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Posted: 2/15/2013 11:25:22 AM
when we lived in new orleans, they always listed the reason. lots of times it was from a gunshot wound!

{Benita}
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Posted: 2/15/2013 11:29:09 AM

I read an online newspaper from where I'm originally from to keep up on my hometown. In today's obituaries, a young man (32 yrs old) died as a "result from injuries sustained from an auto accident".


I wonder if that's the guy that my husband saw the accident of (since I noticed you're in Michigan)? It was on I-75 north right at Square Lake Road....he said the guys car was wrapped around a pole


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Posted: 2/15/2013 11:53:31 AM

all it does is lists a whole paragraph of every distant relative's name, to which I think who cares! Sure mention if you left behind children, but 20 relatives names, I just don't see the point.


I have not been forgiven for not including my sil's name as aunt in my dd's ('86) obit. I guess it 'is' important to some but since we lived 1200 miles I just didn't give it a thought


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Posted: 2/15/2013 12:01:50 PM
I find this interesting...Our paper almost always has the cause of death. Even if it's suicide. The vague ones say "after a brief illness" or something along those lines. The only time a cause isn't mentioned, the person is usually over 80.

Idahopea
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Posted: 2/15/2013 12:29:18 PM
It must be a regional thing because in our local paper it often tells things like this as well...


In our paper I see a lot of obits with remarks such as ...

after an extended illness

after a brave fight with cancer (I used something similiar for my dd in '86)

after a long battle with Alzheimers

unexpectedly/suddenly

result of an auto accident

All these were in yesterdays newspaper.

About 75% of the ones I see have cause of death or a hint of it in the 'story'.

pheestand
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Posted: 2/15/2013 12:38:01 PM

I wonder if that's the guy that my husband saw the accident of (since I noticed you're in Michigan)? It was on I-75 north right at Square Lake Road....he said the guys car was wrapped around a pole


No, Benita. The obituary that started it all was from a small town in Ohio where we're originally from. I read their local newspaper on line from time to time and this one caught my eye. Maybe it's a regional thing- maybe in our area it's just not as common as in other areas.

Thank you all for your input, it's just one of those things that I didn't have much experience with, other than reading the paper, not ever having to write one myself.


gmcwife1
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Posted: 2/15/2013 12:57:04 PM

I saw a change to omitting the cause of death when AIDS started killing so many. No, it is no one's business but it is also not a dirty shameful secret like it used to be. I lost a brother-in-law to AIDS and he was the kindest caring person I knew. He wanted the cause of death listed to start showing the tragedy of this disease and that he was human and not just "one of those people".



I'm sorry for the loss of your BIL and his obituary seems to show the caring you remember him for. I see his listing his cause of death as he meant it, to give awareness of the disease that took him.

By listing the cause, it brings an emotional and personal connection to someone we might not have known.


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bellstar
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Posted: 2/15/2013 1:00:22 PM
I really don't understand the point of obituaries. It's like asking for unnecessary attention. I don't know any of these people that have died. They are all strangers to me. If I knew them I would already know that they died before they were featured in the paper. I would get a phone call. So to me I feel obituaries are pointless unless maybe the person was famous and touched a lot of peoples lives.

Annabella
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Posted: 2/15/2013 1:00:42 PM
Sister BDSQ - that's terrible.

I think the purpose of this is so that the friends and neighbors of those 20 relatives can offer their condolences. Not a roll call.

Interesting!

I just looked at today's paper and the obits are 2 pages but I only look over the page with the large color photos and 90% of those obits were written the exact same way. Photo, long list of relatives, location of funeral, that's it. I never turned to look at the second page because it's the picture that draws me in, I see now that the ones without photos have written cause of death and info about the deceased life. I'm guessing many people look at a previous paper and just copy the format without thinking about it.




Annabella
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Posted: 2/15/2013 1:03:24 PM
bellstar - I remember one year the man that did my taxes called me to say he had to reschedule because he was reading the paper and recognized someone he knew in the obit section. Someone you knew years ago could have died and thus you're not close enough to get a phone call but you still want to pay your respects. I don't know how long they stay online but if someone were to google your name perhaps they could find that as well.

What I don't get is engagement announcements in the paper. Clearly you're invited to the wedding or not, I feel the paper announcement is just a competition for who is willing to pay more money for the ad.




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Posted: 2/15/2013 1:16:02 PM

I really don't understand the point of obituaries. It's like asking for unnecessary attention. I don't know any of these people that have died. They are all strangers to me. If I knew them I would already know that they died before they were featured in the paper. I would get a phone call. So to me I feel obituaries are pointless unless maybe the person was famous and touched a lot of peoples lives.


Can I assume that you have never had a close relative pass away for whom you were responsible for making arrangements? Because I can tell you for sure that I did not have the time nor emotional strength to contact every single person that my dad may have known in his 80+ years of life in the same city to let them know that he had passed away within the first 24 hours after his death.

My dad passed away at around 11 p.m. and the next day was spent gathering his belongings from the hospital, making funeral arrangements, dealing with the coroner, and handling some estate matters that had to be handled immediately. People who NEEDED to know were advised immediately but I simply didn't have it in me to make a multitude of phone calls and spend hours on the phone going over the details with anyone but the closest family members and friends.


Carla




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Posted: 2/15/2013 1:21:00 PM

What I don't get is engagement announcements in the paper. Clearly you're invited to the wedding or not, I feel the paper announcement is just a competition for who is willing to pay more money for the ad.




Throughout history, engagement announcements have had another function: to alert people who believe there is an impediment to the marriage, such as a previous marriage, consanguinity (a closer blood relationship than allowed by law) etc. Many religions have laws about prior marriages or the degrees of blood relationship allowed in marriage. Engagement announcements are thus used to start the time period at which an impeding marriage can be contested. That's the source of the "speak now or forever hold your peace" phrase used at so many traditional weddings.


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mishkismom
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Posted: 2/15/2013 2:39:38 PM
There actually was an obit here about two months ago. A young girl who was in all accounts brilliant and loved killed her self. Her father decided to include it in the obit to try and help (not sure how to word this) people in the future who may be thinking of suicide.
It was painful to read but I can't imagine how hard it was to write! If he helped one person think the act all the way through I think it was worth it.


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obsidian
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Posted: 2/15/2013 2:51:36 PM
Do you want obits to Read how people really die.

Died cleaning own gun.
Shot by intruder with own gun.
Car accident while not wearing seat-belt.
Fell off the roof.
Died in a rest home alone.

It's pretty tragic reading.




pheestand
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Posted: 2/15/2013 2:55:48 PM

Do you want obits to Read how people really die.

Died cleaning own gun.
Shot by intruder with own gun.
Car accident while not wearing seat-belt.
Fell off the roof.
Died in a rest home alone.

It's pretty tragic reading.



As I indicated above,


No, not at all. I'm not saying to broadcast a horrific, violent event in that manner. I was more referring to an extended illness, or a peaceful passing, or even an untimely accident. While the family's privacy should always be respected, indicating that a person died after a long time struggle with Alzheimers, or cancer, or whatever the cause just seems like such a hush-hush thing.

obsidian
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Posted: 2/15/2013 3:11:51 PM

While the family's privacy should always be respected, indicating that a person died after a long time struggle with Alzheimers, or cancer, or whatever the cause just seems like such a hush-hush thing.


Because it's almost always violent, stupid or tragic. Always. It's always upsetting to somebody. Always.

And we are not allowed to print that so that some ghoul with a calculator can count how many people in which region committed suicide and then contact the families.

And somebody always does.

There is always some soul sucking parasite contacting the families calming to be long lost nephew jimmy who had a dream about uncle Toms passing isn't cancer terrible?

The phone calls to the paper just how did Tom really die.
How much money do you reckon his family has?

People who want to know details on obit's are generally always heartless ghouls.

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Posted: 2/15/2013 3:15:59 PM

People who want to know details on obit's are generally always heartless ghouls.


Oh for heaven's sake, equating someone who wonders how a beautiful, young mom died at age 35 with someone who has intention to scam a grieving family is going a bit far and most certainly doesn't make them a "heartless ghoul."



Carla




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Posted: 2/15/2013 3:30:44 PM

when we lived in new orleans, they always listed the reason. lots of times it was from a gunshot wound!



Indeed! I was just about to post that New Orleans obits were sometimes quite graphic. I used to read them with morbid fascination when I lived there.

To the poster who said she didn't see the point of them....usually the family is not only grieving, and busy with all the usual things that need to be done after the death of a loved one. The other reason to publish the announcement is to let friends knows.

When my mom passed away none of us kids still lived in the same town, and hadn't for decades. We simply didn't know who all mom's friends were, even her address book was only of limited help. We knew some were close friends because we'd heard their names, but she was very active in the community. She volunteered, she taught classes to troubled youth, she was very active in her church. Those were people she didn't necessarily have a close personal relationship with, but who had been part of her life for years, they needed to be notified and given the opportunity to attend the funeral. There were probably 100 people at her funeral, who had read about her passing in the paper, and came to pay their respects. It's important to validate someone's life by publishing an obit.

Annabella
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Posted: 2/15/2013 3:49:46 PM
obsidian - I think you're overreacting a bit. A simple "car accident" or "cancer" would suffice. I don't need to know about suicides or gunshot wounds.

Are you saying people call the paper to ask questions about obits? Or use obits to inappropiately call families?

Just today was a picture of a beautiful woman in her 30s who left behind 5 kids! I assure you, the number one question everyone will be asking everyone else at her funeral is "what happened".




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Posted: 2/15/2013 3:57:30 PM
Those people would then find out at the funeral. But obits are used inappropriately all the time. Police depts advise not to publicize when a funeral will be in advance b/c criminals break into homes knowing everyone will be out, widows are preyed upon by swindlers, etc. There are all sorts of opportunists who use information to take advantage of people who are vulnerable and I'll bet they can use cause of death as well. The more info they have about a family or a situation, the more a scam can be pulled off. I surely would not put that info in the paper. There is no reason for the public at large to know the information.


OK. Newbie. This is how it works. If your post consists of 80% sanity, 10% stupidity and 10% all kinds of crazy, we immediately focus on the 20% b/c it discredits the 80%.




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Posted: 2/15/2013 4:08:48 PM

There is always some soul sucking parasite contacting the families calming to be long lost nephew jimmy who had a dream about uncle Toms passing isn't cancer terrible?

The phone calls to the paper just how did Tom really die.
How much money do you reckon his family has?

People who want to know details on obit's are generally always heartless ghouls.



Good grief, Obsidian, you have to be one of the most whacked out people on 2 Peas. Your posts are almost always over the top negative, depicting the general population as drugged or crazed, or suffering some other deviant social maladjustment. Do you know any normal people? People who have normal experiences? Normal families? Where does all this weird stuff come from?

Shih Tzu Mommy
Million dollar camera, 10 dollar lock!

PeaNut 224,352
September 2005
Posts: 24,004
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Posted: 2/15/2013 7:40:21 PM

obsidian - I think you're overreacting a bit. A simple "car accident" or "cancer" would suffice. I don't need to know about suicides or gunshot wounds.


That is what Obsidian does though.



Dog people are a special breed!

mebarnet
I am not the Pea you are looking for

PeaNut 434,276
August 2009
Posts: 7,484
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Loc: Tarpon Springs, Florida

Posted: 2/15/2013 8:02:24 PM
In florida, they used to publish that part of the obit directly from the death certificate. When AIDS first surfaced and people were dying from it, florida passed a statute that the cause of death was not to be published unless the family specifically added it to the information.

Death records are not public in florida and neither are birth records.

This is the state where those three boys who received AIDS from blood transfusions way back when it first became news were bullied and harassed for years and years.


Mari - Loving Scrapbook Generation kits and sketches!!!

2013

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AKathy
Peaing From Podunk

PeaNut 45,443
August 2002
Posts: 16,554
Layouts: 93
Loc: North Dakota

Posted: 2/15/2013 8:30:19 PM
When my DH died I specifically asked that they not publish the cause of death or where he died simply because it wasn't anyone's business. Those that were close to us knew he'd had a heart attack and those that weren't didn't need to know.


***************************************


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katiescott
PeaAddict

PeaNut 407,397
January 2009
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Loc: Sunny Florida

Posted: 2/15/2013 10:37:36 PM
I have always wondered about that too. Also, I am doing family history research and I always wonder how accurate the cause of death is on the death certificates.


Katie Scott
http://kissandtellscrapbooking.typepad.com

milkshake
BucketHead

PeaNut 187,001
January 2005
Posts: 515
Layouts: 0
Loc: China

Posted: 2/15/2013 10:47:33 PM
Just another view...it would have been helpful to my family if we had posted the cause of death instead of "natural causes" for my father. He was only 57 and my mom received multiple, multiple calls asking for his organs. She assured the hospitals, doctors, medical personnel that the organs weren't suitable and they asked for permission to call our doctor. Ummmm, the man was on dialysis for 10 years...you do NOT want his kidneys. The doctors flubbed his eye surgery and he was blind...you do NOT want his corneas. His heart failed because of the extra fluid from kidneys problems...you do NOT want his heart. We would have gladly given them but they failed him you do NOT want them. Its a bit of a joke with us about how bad they wanted his failed organs but it at the time, it wasn't something she needed to deal with.

Scrapalotomous
2 Headed Tasmanian Pea

PeaNut 106,860
September 2003
Posts: 6,202
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Loc: The Apple Isle

Posted: 2/15/2013 11:00:02 PM
I seem to remember hearing that papers will not print cause of death when it is a suicide.

Apparently (and I am digging out a fuzzy memory not quoting facts or research) suicide can come and go in waves within groups of young people. They do not want to glorify it in any way to a potentially impressionable young person.

Suicide accounts for quite a percentage of deaths. I know in my community of less that 100,000 people there is allegedly at least 1 a week. (This came from an ex boss who worked on a suicide prevention program). That is higher than car accidents in my area for example.


Sally

msbee
Mommy Peas-alot

PeaNut 100,930
August 2003
Posts: 14,737
Layouts: 118
Loc: nc

Posted: 2/15/2013 11:25:29 PM
one thing I would be worried about listing a cause of death is if it is from a hereditary condition. I can see some folks being concerned that this could affect people being able to get life insurance.



juswannascrap
PeaAddict

PeaNut 317,184
May 2007
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Loc: Land of Lincoln

Posted: 2/15/2013 11:40:23 PM
From a genealogical viewpoint, obituaries are a wealth of information. My great great grandfather died in 1915. His obit listed his parents, sister, where he was born, that he immigrated from England as a child and that his family entered the USA in New Orleans and came up the Mississippi.

It also stated that he had been blind for the last 42 years of his life, he lost one eye while mowing horse weeds and lost the other 2 years later when it was pierce by a blackberry thorn and that he was cheerful never mourning the loss of his sight. His obit listed his 1st wife, 2nd wife and all his children.

I felt like I hit the jackpot when I found his obituary.
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