[APG Public List] predeceased by infant children

Charles S. Mason, Jr. cgrs791 at netscape.com
Mon Jan 4 11:39:32 MST 2010

I have been traveling for the holidays and have not had a chance to send anything in reply to this topic before now.  My oldest sister died in 1952 when she was 22 months old.  She had cerebral palsy.  Both sets of my grandparents had a child that died young.  My father's parents had a still born child in 1931.  My mother's parents had a daughter die when she was 5 years old in 1936.  None of my grandparents obituaries mentioned the child they lost.  My sister was not included with the grandchildren in any of my grandparent's obituaries.  Nor were three other grandchildren of my mother's parents that died.  One was in her mid 20s when she died.  So it was not just the young children that were not included.  I am not sure why, but my guess from my research in obituaries is that it was not customary to do this in the 1960s and 70s when my grandparents died.  

The death of a child is always devastating to parents and is often difficult to deal with.  Not only at the time of the death, but for the rest of their lives.  During my own childhood I knew about my sister and my parents would mention her to other people when I was around.  However I did not know when her birthday was until I was about 16 years old when I came home from school one day.  I do not remember exactly why my mother told me that day that it was my sister's birthday.  I did not know where she was buried until I was almost 19 and I went looking for her grave.  I was three and a half when my sister died.  I had always remembered some things about her funeral, but never said anything to my parents until about 20 years ago.  At first my mother thought someone had told me about her funeral until I started describing the funeral home inside.  It had an addition added and other renovations done in the early 1960s.  I was not in the funeral home between my sister's funeral and when the addition and renovations took place.  When I described the layout back in 1952 she knew I was remembering my sister's funeral.

It has not been until the last 20-25 years that people have been more open and public about death.  In the past many children have been sheltered from funerals.  I know a number of people who were in there 30s or 40s before they ever went to a funeral.  Today attitudes have changed and funerals are more often celebrations of life.  That is not to say people do not mourn, they do.

Often what is included in an obituary depends on a number of things.  What is the custom of the area and the newspapers where the person lived?  What does it cost to have the obituary published?  Many papers charge unless the person was someone well known in the area.  Who in the family gave the information and what may they have not known about the person?  Did they know about children that died young?

My parent's obituaries listed my sister who died young.  Both obituaries also included the names of their parents and all their deceased siblings, along with the ones that were still alive.  But I was the one who wrote both obituaries and what else would a genealogist do?

I lead a special interest group for one of the genealogical societies I belong to and writing our own obituary was a topic we covered in June 2008.  It was a popular topic and the group has requested we do it again, so that will be our topic later this week.  I put together a list of things to consider about obituaries for this meeting.  I have included it below.  

Chuck Mason
Fairfax, VA

Analyzing and Writing Obituaries
Things to consider about Obituaries

What does the obituary say?

What is missing from the obituary?

Even simple obituaries can lead to other sources.


Writing your own obituary
Things to consider:

Style or customs of the paper as to what to include

Cost - paid or not


Things to include:

Name of person including full name, nicknames, aliases 

Place of residence

Former places of residence including dates left

Date and Place of birth

Survivors including their names, their spouse's names, and place of residence (parents, children, grand children, great grand children, siblings, nieces and nephews, special friends, neighbors, and domestic partners)

Names of family who are deceased (include parents, children, grand children, siblings, etc.)

Pets - names

Occupation and employer or former employer

Religion and church affiliation

Clubs and fraternal organizations - include names and locations, office held, committees chaired, awards received, and lodge numbers

Civic or political activities organizations - include names and locations, office held, committees chaired, and awards received

Citizenship - if immigrant - naturalization information, former residence and date of immigration

Leisure activities and hobbies

Travel and favorite vacations locations

Funeral information - funeral home, address, viewing time and place, funeral service location, and time

Cremation - disposition of remains

Burial - cemetery and location

Education - schools attended, graduation dates, fraternities or sororities, degrees received, and awards received

Memorial donations - names and addresses of recipients

Flowers - accepted or not

Web address of funeral home

  ----- Original Message ----- 

  From: Christine Crawford-Oppenheimer 
  To: APGpubliclist at apgen.org 
  Sent: Saturday, January 02, 2010 11:03 PM
  Subject: Re: [APG Public List] predeceased by infant children

  The information in obituaries is usually supplied by a family member, so it would be up to them whether predeceased infant children are mentioned. Some people might not think these are importaint. 18 months before I was born, my mother had a baby who lived only a day, but I knew from several things she had said that he was very important to her, so I listed him in her obituary. One of her college roommates, who was also the Godmother of my living brother, commented to me (after reading the obit) that she wondered why my mother hadn't mentioned Mark to her. I am sure that at the time it was a harrowing loss, and later, it would have been hard to bring up the subject.


  On Wed, Dec 23, 2009 at 7:28 AM, Ida Skarson McCormick <idamc at seanet.com> wrote:

    In the case of 2 cousins who died in the last 6 months, one in Michigan and one in Washington State, I have noticed that although each lost a child in infancy, neither of those is in the obituary "predeceased by" list. Is this a trend in the funeral industry? There is not even an allusion to an "infant son."

    --Ida Skarson McCormick, idamc at seanet.com, Seattle

  Christine Crawford-Oppenheimer
  Hyde Park, NY

  Author of: Long-Distance Genealogy:
  Researching Your Ancestors from Home
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: ../attachments/20100104/a0a411e2/attachment.html

More information about the APGPublicList mailing list