Dear Abby on Exes in Obits

Nov 30, 2010 | 0 comments

A recent Dear Abby column was all about whether former spouses should or should not be included in an obituary. Some tips:

Whether an ex is named in a paid death notice placed by the family (the classified ad obituary) is a matter of personal preference. A news obituary article written by a reporter will include the names of former spouses, whether separated by death or divorce.

As a matter of historical research, including biological parents as well as step-parents is a valuable addition to an obituary.

Whether to mention a divorced spouse’s name is the right of the surviving family to decide the contents of the obituary.

As Carolyn Gilbert, founder of the International Association of Obituarists noted, the obit can be a valuable record for future generations to trace family history and genealogy, listing details such as mother’s maiden names, names of children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Historians and social scientists also rely on obits to collect information.

This also applies to future generations. The more you say, the more you pay, but it may be worth the extra words for the family record of lineage.

Gilbert explained, “We are getting accustomed to reading obituaries that do not name the next generation. If the next generation is not named, then when a family or funeral home is following the pattern they see, they will typically not name them.”

Something to think about, whether preserving a history of past relationships or keeping a record for the next generation.

A Good Goodbye