In my opinion, it’s mandatory in any obituary to tell how the person died. I’ve seen way too many obituaries with that info left out. How could they do that? If a scientist did an experiment and told you what the experiment was related to, how it was similar to other experiments, and then left off the results of the experiment, would you give the scientist any credit? Not likely. You would probably even stop calling him or her a scientist. I would. I would stop recognizing any authority of that scientist on further subjects. Life is like that: it’s an experiment, and how you die is like the result of the experiment.

Or life is like a book. Would you enjoy a book if you were reading along and found out when you got to the end that the last page was missing? That’s what it’s like when you’re reading someone’s obituary and the person who wrote it left out that curiosity satisfier, the reason for death.

And it doesn’t really matter how in depth you go on the explanation. “Heart failure” could be description enough. You’d be forgiven if your relative happened to be executed by the state and you didn’t want to say, “He died peacefully in the chair,” because that would be a lie, and you didn’t want to say, “He died screaming and cussing, tied to a hospital bed, as they gave him the lethal injection,” because that would be too much information. In those cases, you would be forgiven if you just said, “Heart failure.”

But let’s say your relative was a fairly good person and didn’t require government intervention on their behalf (and the rest of societies behalf). Maybe they just died the old fashioned way and took too many mule kicks to the head. Leaving off that they died of brain damage would be cruel to their memory. If you ask me, that is.

I suspect that some people are just cheap and don’t want to spend those few bucks to make the obituary a complete picture of the person’s life…and death. I say, if you’re inheriting anything from the person who died and you don’t spend the money for a few more words to describe them, then you’ll get your reward in the next life, you tightwad.

Tell you what though, you would be sufficiently redeemed if you went all out on their headstone. Those things cost a fortune.

Published by Kurt Gailey

This is where I'm supposed to brag about how I've written seven novels, twelve screenplays, thousands of short stories, four self-help books, and one children's early-reader, but I'd rather stay humble. You can find out about things I've written or follow my barchive (web archive, aka 'blog) at or follow me on twitter @kurt_gailey. I love sports and music and books, so if you're an athlete or in a band or you're a writer, give me a follow and I'll most likely follow you back. I've even been known to promote other people's projects.

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