Dead Database

I have a complaint. I think obituaries should be required to list cause of death. I mean really, why else are they there? The people who want to go to the funeral will know when and where. Those of us who read them for informational purposes, don’t read them to find out where there might be a good party to crash. Personally, I read them to find out if I’m in that death zone. You know, that age where people start dying of heart attacks rather than frat hazings and DUIs.

Maybe it’s that I don’t know the reason behind obituaries. The usual obit, if you are just regular Joe Schmo includes your name and age, all the people who have survived you, the time and place of your funeral and comment about flowers and/or donations. Here is an example of the information i want, but i want it on normal people, not just the famous. Everyone should be famous in death.

Name and age is good. It gives you an idea of with whom you’re dealing. The older people always make me happy. Sarah Schumacher, 89. Sarah had a long life. She had her chance to make a good one or a bad one. She wasn’t cheated. If there was some sort of dementia involved, it could even be a celebration. Aunt Sarah finally moved on. Go aunt Sarah. Let us know how Uncle Bob is and good luck with the reincarnation plans.

My age range is important. I really want to know why Ashley, 32, died Wednesday. I mean, I really want to know. Was it cancer, heart attack, abusive husband? Was it suicide, childbirth, car accident, chickenpox? Why do people my age die? Oh sure, I could look up statistics, but they rarely list the one offs, like struck by lightning, slipped off the countertop reaching for a can of beans or accidentally fell onto a knife in the dishwasher. Tip for the day: Always place the knives with sharp part down. If it’s someone my age, I want to know. Am I in the dead zone yet? Do a have a few more years?

Anyone under 18, that’s sad. Name and age don’t quite cut it. Was it car accident, health issues, suicide? Why do 15 year olds die? I would like to take that opportunity to learn from tragedy and worry for the 15 year olds I know. Add to my personal database of things to worry about and/or prevent. For example, there was a girl I knew who died right out of high school. She fell off a horse. Another girl fell off a motorcycle. This was a clue not to “ride” things. Helmets did not help in either case.

Occasionally you’ll see cause of death listed. Sometimes you can glean it from the donations part. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Women’s Cancer Resource Center, American Heart Association, AIDs Center, ALS Foundation etc.… This is nice. It’s subtle. I can work with this. There is the appropriate amount of respect for the dead and the warning for the living. I know to get mammograms, eat better, and use condoms. How do I learn from the dead if they do not tell me what to watch out for?

I don’t understand the survived by part. It’s your day. You did all the work, why does every Tom, Dick and Harry in your family tree get to be listed. I can understand your wife and kids, maybe a parent, but siblings and extended family?

This is all relative to the age of the deceased. There are different rules for the under 18 crowd. Most siblings are friends. The emotional abuse inflicted on each other has yet to mature. Extended family is still invited to birthday parties and holidays. Death is just cruel under the 18 line.

When you’re 89, that niece you never liked because of her tendencies to hurt small animals and set fires, why is she in there? If you’re 69, the brother you haven’t spoken to in 40 years since he stole your boyfriend does not need to be included. Back off, Bud. Wait your turn. It’ll come, don’t worry. Just don’t be thinking you get to piggyback on mine.

So that being said, here’s mine:

Jennifer X, 99, died Tuesday in her sleep of old age despite years of anxiety. She is survived by Cleo, her cat of 78 years. Everyone else is dead or unimportant regardless of what they say. In lieu of flowers, spend your money on something pretty. The ashes will be tossed Thursday. Casual attire in gray is recommended in case of high winds.


8 thoughts on “Dead Database

  1. Jen, I’ve always felt the same way. I occassionally indulge in the reading of the obits, but I try not to do it too often, as it really engages my interest in all things morbid. Incidentally, I also like cemetaries, old ones with tombstones. They’re usually really peaceful, and a nice spot to have a little picnic lunch.

  2. Jennifer, the funny thing is that out of that whole story the one thing that stuck out in my mind was “the brother you haven’t spoken to in 40 years since he stole your boyfriend”.

    As much as you may wish and pray, your brother, I promise, shall never be gay.
    -Very sexually active straight brother, who has always been a boob guy.

  3. maybe a boob guy, but active? huh, i guess that bringing chicks back to your childhood home thing really works.

  4. so much information, i need not read the obits.with all the comments – it mostly gave me smiles. this jen person is a writer because mostly she’s curious, like her cat cleo. obviously she’ll reach a ripe age (jen) due to the ongoing satisfaction of her curiosity. why is no one publishing these wry and irreverent commentaries?

  5. Hi Jen

    I’m writing an article about expat bloggers in Germany and would love to get in contact with you.

    Please could you send me an email if you’re interested?


  6. Nuala: I like the old cemetaries, but the new ones make me sad.
    Chevy: thanks for the tip. no more knives in the washer.
    Jeff: I thought you were a nose man. And I was speaking generally.
    Anon: Cleo had better be right by my side as i reach that ripe old age. If an intruder came in and asked me to choose between Markus and Cleo, well, Markus better hope that doesn’t happen.

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