Loss of mother devastating to children

I’m thinking about my cousin who died suddenly at age 34 and left behind  her husband and child.

I remember giving her son a children’s book about death of a loved one. How can you ever make such a huge loss any better though?

I’m thinking about my relatives today because of an obituary I saw in the paper.

It shows a beautiful mother, 22, and her young son, Micah. There is a quote from Micah in the obituary. “You’re my best friend Momma.”

It’s truly heartbreaking to know this little guy has lost his mother. There is no mention of a father so not sure if he is in his life.

My grandmother lost her mom when she was nine.

I am lucky enough to still have my mother around.

I can’t imagine how I would have coped had I lost her in childhood.

Special thoughts go out to Micah today.

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16 thoughts on “Loss of mother devastating to children

  1. Sorry about your cousin. Hard on the young father and hope
    he has family nearby to help out in years ahead.
    A bit of a nitpick – an Obituary is what a newspaper editors
    decide is newsworthy and assign staff to write it..
    This sounds like a Death Notice, a classified advertisement
    usually composed by a surviving family member and which
    the Estate pays to have printed. It’s often submitted through
    the funeral home.
    Re one you quote – in the Free Press ? -if there is no father
    of the child noted, have you any idea who composed might
    have composed it and chosen the child’s quote ?
    One Notice problem these days re females is that there is little
    data about their identity asidefrom motherhood, most space
    given to thanking health care people and asking for charitable
    donations. Really hard for contemporaries to sort out the
    if a woman with no date of birth is the one we knew in
    younger pre-marriage/parenthood years by a different surname.
    Let’s hope there is enough useful information about this young
    woman for future generations to understand their ancestry.
    One way to look at this is by the age of the person who died
    rather than those who survived, the “losers” With increasing life
    expectancies of women especially people are still “child of”/second
    generation a lot longer than in the past. Realizing you have become
    the oldest living generation can come as a shock.

  2. RIP,
    There are few people these days who use the term death notice. Most call them obituaries, even in newsrooms.
    When someone noteworthy died, we were often asked to see if we could find the obituary (or death notice) to get info and then write an obit story.
    Does get a bit confusing.

  3. I may be misreading the 22-year-old deceased reference. With a photo,
    it sounds like a news story of some kind. An accident ? Kid sounds pretty
    talkativefor such a young parent .. ??
    In my opinion it does no service to the public when Classified and News
    departments fail to differentiate between a researched article on a newly
    deceased of significance and the little notices kin of can pay to have in
    the paper saying whatever suits their fancy. Usually about themselves…
    It’s just feel-good for paying customers..
    Of course first stop in writing/updating an Obit is to see what kin have
    published. Problems emerge years later looking for death information
    – was it just buried in the paid notices pages, or will it show up more
    easily in the online news pages, maybe even clipped by a local history
    library.
    A third category has emerged in the Globe and Mail, ‘Lives Lived’,
    reader composed, printed without cost. Usually very informative and
    valuable if it concerns someone one used to know – depends on the
    relationship of the writer,sometimes a latecomer without first hand i
    nformation.
    -I can get very heated on this topic because much of what is published
    about less newsworthy people these days will be useless to family
    history researchers in years to come. Often fail even to name the
    parents, and even omit the maiden name of wife-of, and miss out
    on invaluable emigrant background.
    A good exercise is to draft one with what you feel will be of interest
    to future newspaper readers about your life as a unique individual.
    Would you pay all that money to the Globe to thank the health care
    industry and to solicit money for a charity?
    Wonder how many Standing Obits are in the LFP system to be hauled
    out regularly for update, and quickly when the Grim Reaper calls ?

  4. RIP,
    Used to be pretty standard to have good chunk of an obituary written up and ready to publish in news hole. Background, noteworthy moments in a life were compiled ahead of time and then after the death of high profile person, a couple of calls would be made to get some fresh quotes.
    Doesn’t happen too much these days as fewer and fewer bodies to work ahead on these kinds of stories. Tough enough to get the news written for the next day let alone working ahead on an “in case he/she dies” story.
    Thanks for your thoughts. Maiden names are often left out and anyone researching in the future will be hard pressed to learn much about ancestors.

  5. People will die, and don’t envy anyone locally trying to summarize in a
    hurry the life of eg. The Queen, the Prime Minister from material gleaned
    on the error-filled internet. In an earlier era newspaper Obits were less
    based on opinions/quotes than on well researched facts of their lives and
    careers.
    Well not your problem anymore, such last minute scrambles. Hope you
    are enjoying this hiatus although working from home can have its
    challenges.

  6. Excellent, excellent comments and considerations by @RIP.

    As a writer of many “obits” and “death notices” (and sadly some even personal) I must say, there definitely is a big difference between in some news orgs., and therefore I share many of the same pet-peeves as @RIP.

    Also, very much agree with the insight about ‘current fashion’ in the writing of “notices” i.e. it is certainly quite odd, although not reaaly that hard to understand the “thanking of healthcare workers” and ‘plugging’ charities. After all wasn’t this all part of that person’s memory and arc of life experience.

    On the point as well, of seeing more elimination of mentioning maiden-names. The latter tendency it was explained to me may be because so many current ID-verification protocols use “mother’s maiden name” and so people may hesitate to disclose their relationship for fear of identity theft.

    Funny too, I should mention that it seems its not the “obit” you have ready that is called, but more often, the ‘unexpected’ death (as if any death is unexpected) that is the one you are called to write.

    • ‘Daughter of” when a woman is elderly, that father and mother long-deceased,
      shouldn’t be helpful to internet crooks. Doubt it is helpful when the deceased’s
      accounts if any would be closed.
      It seems that kin looking up the family tree at the dear departed simply can’t
      see beyond Mummy as wife-of Daddy. Aa matter of self-centredness.
      Was horrified recently to see a godson.a lawyer, who knows a lot of us who
      went to grade school through university with his mother and even knew her
      mother, forgetting to credit that side of the family tree. Worse his Daddy had
      long since skipped off leaving our old chum with his offspring to raise, stuck
      with his dreary paternal surname.
      Maybe you could do a model Death Notice, with an eye to cost in a big city
      newspaper for discussion. A genealogist did one for Leaf some years ago,
      and a consideration is if you see it as a family history resource and well
      as public information.
      Maybe Emily Post could be consulted too.

  7. What a GREAT IDEA! a model Death Notice.
    A call goes out to anyone who has one or can come up with a similar outline to share it here.
    I’ve personally never thought of it.
    I’ve seen once in a while a kind of D-I-Y number of points listed in self-help ‘Executor’ books sold, but never actually a “model.” This would be very helpful I think both to amateurs and professional writers alike.

  8. This kind of etiquette advice has been around for decades and many
    homes owned a book.The US Emily Post brand has been updated.–
    “•The obituary serves to give notice of the person’s death, remember
    their life, give details of their extended family and inform of the
    memorial service arrangements.
    •Include the full name of deceased, adding in nicknames if he o
    r she went by one, include age at death, current place of residence,
    day and date of death, place of death, and cause of death.
    •Next comes a section telling about the deceased’s life. Include date
    of birth, place of birth, name of parents and siblings, marriage and
    children, education, any awards or honorable accomplishments,
    Employment which could include promotions and colleagues, hobbies
    and club affiliations, charitable or religious organization memberships,
    and any lifetime achievements.
    -Include a list of family that has survived the deceased. This is could
    be a spouse, children, parents, siblings, pets, etc.
    •Include information on the service time, date and location for both the
    visitation and funeral.
    •A number for the funeral home so friends can send flowers or call for
    more information.
    •If donations to a charitable organization are being accepted, you may
    include this information as well.
    -Most obituaries’ format and cost will change depending on the paper
    so check with the local one for more details. The cost will most likely be
    per a word and can add up quickly. Have someone else proofread the
    he obituary before it is submitted to avoid any printed errors.”
    [Emily Post® registered trademarks of Emily Post Inc.© 2012 ]—
    = I would add any military service, as specific as possible, not just the
    meaningless war veteran – a civilian term. Oldtimers keep an out for
    members of their own unit, ship etc.passing on.
    And see little reason for intimate cause of death details – so what,
    everybody dies of something, although accidents are worth noting
    And why plug the nursing home if any?
    “At London Ontario” is enough as it suggests which cemetery is
    being used – often a problem to locate in later years.
    =Longterm what would you want to find about your own ancestors in
    50 years? All those kiddies’ names are useless without surnames,
    and naming children in full in the paper is not always wise.
    Over to Anyone to start working up his final image for his kin to
    update (or ignore..) Yes mine is done and filed with the Pre-pay.

  9. .

    Great advice.

    Yes, this is similar to a “cheat sheet” we had around for cub-reporters.

    Don’t recall though if we ever had a “model” or perfect obit on hand as a ‘perfect’ example, but all tried to emulate the NYTimes…of course as everyone knows, they often set the standard for much that is considered newspaper excellence.

    Something that was tricky, and often edited out in the past…perhaps still is…according to fashion/taste, if we can call it that, involving changes of attitude, or kin’s wishes, privacy concerns, etc… such as whether to mention:gay, lesbian, bi, trans status/relationship; suicide; AIDS/HIV; addiction; rare disease (although sometimes a clue appears in donation request); industrial, vehicle or other types of accidents–also naming the company, product or contributing party or the egregious contributing factors (as a cautionary tale, I suppose) i.e. ‘Mr.B died in the poorly maintained mine run by Cut-Corners Coal Mining Co.’

    In the same “vein” I always thought it would be fascinating if each obit/death notice had a “Regrets” section: as in, “I wish I hadn’t beecome an alcoholic”; “Shouldn’t have smoked so much”; “I knew I shouldn’t have bought that piece of crap car from those crooks at ‘downtown motors.’

  10. Just a minute – the etiquette item was for members of family of
    deceased /executor drafting a paid notice for the paper. Nothing
    to do with newspaper death reporting. That’s not Mrs. Post’s job..
    It enables them to announce the death, tell interested people of
    any funeral plans. It is a private matter even if the survivors
    /estate even spend the money. And which newspaper is used.
    They decide if they want to announce such things as accidents,
    suicide, disease etc.
    What a newspaper Obit editor decides to do is largely out of their
    control unless they agree be interviewed by the writer assigned
    to it.
    Feel free to write your own paid Death Notice and arrange that
    whoever you think will outlive you and wind up your final affairs
    agrees to place the ad in the classified section. Issue here, is
    that a rant from the grave might embarrass the survivors who’d
    hoped the deceased would finally shut up.
    Some Death Notice ads are written up by the “dier to be”.
    Newspapers will watch their step in offending readers and in
    comments that their lawyers feel are unwise.
    Having had to trail after an Obit writer who dropped in an
    snotty irrelevant remark about a long-dead person the Feminist
    had not liked, it draws a lot of attention when kin ask websites
    which mindless reprinted the Obit to stop repeating the comment
    about a much admired person, who could hardly speak back
    having been dead for decades.
    It is all a matter of taste and the public need to know, which depends
    on the prominace of the dead person,doesn’t it.
    This all gets back to terminology. Is it deceptive of media to call their
    paid advertisement the same thing as their editorial matter ?
    Will see if can find 1904 Etiquette book for practices of the day.
    And old Style books somewhere.

  11. It is not deceptive of the media to use the same term for paid obit or staff written one.
    At no point did someone say, ‘Let’s change a death notice to obit.’ It just changed over time.
    People also know where the paid obits are in the newspaper, and believe me, if you change the location in the paper readers are all over editors.
    No deception at play on this one, but perhaps in other areas.
    Let me know what you find in etiquette or style guides.

  12. Well, as a consumer and user of this kind of historical material
    I prefer a clear distinction between what is in print advertising
    space and what is a news space decision. (Ever used microfilm?)
    Guess people now like referring to an “Obituary” re the Loved One,
    which has hints of social importance – not just a family bit of business
    re an estate.Susoect the funeral trade helped blur the line.
    “Obituaries” is what staff-generated coverage is called in collections
    of them and in oldtimers recollections of being assigned to that task.
    Lots of stuff online going back to Victorians but tend to tangle up
    mourning practices,and even gravestone inscriptions.
    LFP isn’t heavy on Obits anyhow whereas my Globe has a page
    every day.
    At one time the phrase ‘Loved One’ reduced people to giggles
    thinking of the Waugh book.

  13. CP stylebook revised wartime to early ’70s has a entry headed
    ‘Obit Items and Sketches’. “Report deaths of persons prominent
    in their communities…
    “..precise medical cause need not be stated when a story makes
    plain that the death came from the complications of old age.”
    – Nowadays intrusive rhapsodizing about battles and dying with dignity.-
    c1904 etiquette book seems to be on loan, and 1960s one is missing too..
    (if you are thinking of the Vanderbilt one, to great surprise ‘Little Gloria’
    is mother to the now-Out Anderson Cooper ).

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