How Obituaries Reflect Society

cremation services in Rockford, ILObituaries are one of the cremation services offered in Rockford, IL. Until a few years ago, kindness was often mentioned in obituaries, either as a description of the person who had died or as their legacy to those they left behind.

Obituaries were also kinder to those who had died. Even if the person who had died was mean and nasty and hated everybody, their obituary did not reflect any malice and did not bring up all the wrongs that they had done to everyone in their lives. It may not have been glowing, but it also wasn’t condemning.

Those days are gone. People have followed society, where social media has led the way in hanging out all the dirty laundry and castigating people for all their real or perceived wrongs and misdeeds, with some of the obituaries they have written for relatives who have died.

Consider the 2013 obituary that Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick’s children wrote about her: “Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick born Jan 4, 1935 and died alone on Aug. 30, 2013. She is survived by her 6 of 8 children whom she spent her lifetime torturing in every way possible. While she neglected and abused her small children, she refused to allow anyone else to care or show compassion towards them. When they became adults she stalked and tortured anyone they dared to love. Everyone she met, adult or child was tortured by her cruelty and exposure to violence, criminal activity, vulgarity, and hatred of the gentle or kind human spirit.

On behalf of her children whom she so abrasively exposed to her evil and violent life, we celebrate her passing from this earth and hope she lives in the after-life reliving each gesture of violence, cruelty, and shame that she delivered on her children. Her surviving children will now live the rest of their lives with the peace of knowing their nightmare finally has some form of closure.

Most of us have found peace in helping those who have been exposed to child abuse and hope this message of her final passing can revive our message that abusing children is unforgiveable [sic], shameless, and should not be tolerated in a “humane society”. Our greatest wish now, is to stimulate a national movement that mandates a purposeful and dedicated war against child abuse in the United States of America.”

And then there is the 2018 obituary for Kathleen Dehmlow, written by her abandoned children, Gina and Jay: “Kathleen Dehnlow (Schunk) was born March 19, 2038 to Joseph and Gertrude Schunk of Wabasso. She married Dennis Dehmlow at St. Anne’s in Wabasso in 1957 and had two children Gina and Jay. In 1962 she became pregnant by her husband’s brother Lyle Dehmlow and moved to California. She abandoned her children, Gina and Jay who were then raised by her parents in Clements, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Schunk. She passed away May 31, 2018 in Springfield and will now face judgement. She will not be missed by Gina and Jay, and they understand that this world is a better place without her.”

Being mean-spirited in writing an obituary may feel satisfying in the moment, but it is a short-lived satisfaction. Our harsh words about someone who has died end up saying much more about us than they do about them.

Taking the high road – and remembering the timeless advice that if you don’t have anything good to say about someone, don’t say anything at all – is a testimony to the victory of good character in spite of the odds against it.

If you’d like guidance on writing kind obituaries and other cremation services in Rockford, IL, our compassionate and experienced team at Collins & Stone Funeral Home is here to help. You can visit us at our funeral home at 128 S 5th Street, Rockford, IL 61104, or you can call us today at (815) 965-1515.

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