Monday, January 5, 2009


Rebecca Walsh in today's Salt Lake Tribute
"Writing a Fond Farewell"

You can learn a lot about a place by reading the obits.

The article also tells of heart break that seeps out between the lines in a tragic death. A grieving mother whose ex husband killed her two children is understandably not mentioned. A young person dies and there is no cause of death. Suicide. Overdose.

Utah's obituaries are uncommon for their expressions of faith, belief in an afterlife, recognition of children who died before birth or in infancy. Of heavenly reunions and pre-existence and missions. The best obits spend less time on the resume and more time on the personality. "grandpa loved to eat tomato sandwiches and burned bread," "she loved Monte Python, Puccini, and poop jokes."

Obituary's in the Tribune were free until thirty years ago. Now cost as much as $1,000. Also in obituary News, the Casper Star published free Obituaries, but that ended last October.

Julianne Couch writes for the Star Tribune, " But readers also regularly peeked into the lives of tea-totaling, 100-year-old Mormons, hardscrabble miners, veterans of World Wars, and the men and women who grew up in sod houses or log cabins, rode horses to school, and built the nation's great roads, dams, and bridges."

Just a few weeks ago the obituary of Casparite Jim Adams was making the blog rounds.

His obituary reads in part "Jim who had tired of reading obituaries noting other's courageous battles with this or that disease, wanted it known that he lost his battle. It was primarily as a result of being stubborn and not fallowing doctor's orders or maybe for just living life a little too hard for better than five decades.

He was sadly deprived of his final wish, which was to be run over by a beer truck on the way to the liquor store to buy booze for a date."

The tradition of free obituaries is a sad loss. Obits provide lots of valuable information about people, communities, and society beyond names, dates, and places.E

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