I spent some of my early days in the newspaper business writing obituaries, so of course these two items in the news caught my eye today. Call this the special “obit edition” of PR Buzzsaw.
Early this morning came reports that someone at the Bloomberg financial newswire mistakenly pushed the “publish” button after updating the pre-written obituary for Steve Jobs yesterday afternoon. The obit was quickly taken down, but many people caught it and have been Twittering and blogging about a premature glimpse into how the media will characterize this icon one day. Apple’s PR Department, no doubt, is seizing a rare opportunity to clarify/correct/influence anything they felt was off-target.
And thanks to a tip from PR Buzzsaw reader Nancy of Pennsylvania via Laura of California, here’s news of a paid obituary notice (confirmed by Snopes and written up here by Daily Breeze columnist John Bogert) that’s generating buzz about whether to “tell it like it is” when writing a family member’s obituary. Here’s how it appeared in the Vallejo (Calif.) Times-Herald:
1929 – Aug. 7, 2008
Dolores Aguilar, born in 1929 in New Mexico, left us on August 7, 2008. She will be met in the afterlife by her husband, Raymond, her son, Paul Jr., and daughter, Ruby.
She is survived by her daughters Marietta, Mitzi, Stella, Beatrice, Virginia and Ramona, and son Billy; grandchildren, Donnelle, Joe, Mitzie, Maria, Mario, Marty, Tynette, Tania, Leta, Alexandria, Tommy, Billy, Mathew, Raymond, Kenny, Javier, Lisa, Ashlie and Michael; great-grandchildren, Brendan, Joseph, Karissa, Jacob, Delaney, Shawn, Cienna, Bailey, Christian, Andre Jr., Andrea, Keith, Saeed, Nujaymah, Salma, Merissa, Emily, Jayci, Isabella, Samantha and Emily. I apologize if I missed anyone.
Dolores had no hobbies, made no contribution to society and rarely shared a kind word or deed in her life. I speak for the majority of her family when I say her presence will not be missed by many, very few tears will be shed and there will be no lamenting over her passing.
Her family will remember Dolores and amongst ourselves we will remember her in our own way, which were mostly sad and troubling times throughout the years. We may have some fond memories of her and perhaps we will think of those times too. But I truly believe at the end of the day ALL of us will really only miss what we never had, a good and kind mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. I hope she is finally at peace with herself. As for the rest of us left behind, I hope this is the beginning of a time of healing and learning to be a family again.
There will be no service, no prayers and no closure for the family she spent a lifetime tearing apart. We cannot come together in the end to see to it that her grandchildren and great-grandchildren can say their goodbyes. So I say here for all of us, GOOD BYE, MOM.
No mincing of words, here. Should paid obituaries – or quotes in the news versions – be full of fluff, or should they tell it like it is/was? Whether you’re pre-writing your own obituary or spending time with those who will write it after you’re gone, it’s certainly something to think about!