Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Window Into the Past

The current writer of the Dear Abby column (her daughter actually) recently tackled the topic of obituary photographs. Some readers want to see more modern pictures of the deceased. Others prefer pictures from the past. If you had to choose one to accompany your news obit, which would you publish?


Alana Baranick said...

My preference is for photos showing the deceased as they appeared when they were engaged in the community.

If the dearly departed's obit is to be published in the community where he lived when he/she was in his/her 30s, 40s and 50s and seen around town, a mug from that period of his/her life is perfectly appropriate.

It helps the reader identify the deceased.

Think about it. How many times have you seen obits for people whose names are unfamiliar, but when you see the face, you realize this is the person who was the cashier at your favorite supermarket or perhaps your friendly neighborhood librarian?

If the obit will be printed in the paper where the deceased grew up but where he/she hasn't lived since graduating from high school, the senior picture would be reasonable.

A youthful mug also is appropriate if the obit is about an 80-year-old woman, who was a fashion model in her 20s. Portraits of youthful World War II veterans may be fitting for an old soldier whose obit boasts about his wartime service but makes little mention of his postwar life.

And if the person spent most of his/her life elsewhere and retired to the community in recent years, then a photo showing him/her in later years makes sense.

It's wonderful if you have the opportunity to run several photos, showing the deceased at different times of life, engaged in favorite activities and/or with family and/or friends.

I do hate "Together Again" pictures showing the deceased with the spouse who left the planet earlier. How does the child, who is placing the obit, know for sure that the parent would want to be reunited with his/her spouse?

But whatever you do, please don't tarnish the person's memory by running a pre-death Alzheimer's snapshot in which he/she is propped up on the couch between two grandchildren, eyes vacant, oxygen tubes up the nose. That's just plain insulting.

Anonymous said...

The old joke:
If you want to see what you will look like when you're dead, check out your driver's license