Tuesday, April 29, 2008

In extremely bad taste

I've occasionally written about how I read the obituaries from back home. It's not a ghoulish quest. Rather, it's one of the ways I remain connected to the place I grew up.

The site that hosts my hometown's obit notices also allows folks to sign a guestbook. Most of them seem to follow the same pattern, using the same programmed phrases to share condolences from afar. While perusing them recently, however, I came across one that stood out from the pack for all the wrong reasons. Critical details have been changed to protect the guilty:
Sorry to hear about [name of the deceased]; he was a nice guy. Have you made any plans about what to do with his aprtment? My wife and I always liked the location and would pay a handsome finder's fee to move in. We don't want any of his stuff; I'm sure you would want want to keep his junk as a keepsake. Please call us at [phone number of the writer] when you've cleaned up the place. Thanks.
I'm on the fence as to whether or not this was a joke. If it was, it's highly misplaced. If it's serious, then it's about as tacky as anything I've ever witnessed online.

Your turn: Thoughts? Have you come across similar funeral/death notice faux pas in your online travels? Do tell!

Update - May 14, 2008: I revisited the entry today to see if anyone had followed up on it. Clearly they had: the offensive guest book entry has been removed. Mercifully, two other visitors left somewhat more heartfelt - and conventional - messages. Sounds like someone who's missed. May his memory continue to be a blessing.


Mamacita (Mamacita) said...

When they did something like that on "Scrubs," it was kind of funny. That someone did it in real life is just wrong on so many levels. . . .

I've read, though, that in New York people follow the obits and try to beat each other to the relatives' doors to cash in on that rent control stuff.

But it's still tasteless and tacky.

Kimberly said...

I had to respond to this. When my father-in-law died, he left behind a big, well-known, beautiful victorian home. At his wake, a realtor from town walked up to my sister-in-law, handed her a business card and said, "Sorry to hear about your dad, but when you're ready to sell that gorgeous house, give me a call."

We were appalled and tore that woman's card up into about a million pieces. The gall of some people amazes me, which makes me think that post might not be a joke.

Tink *~*~* said...

That's just in really poor taste. I bet they're either the last people to get the apartment, or else that finder's fee will be poetic justice in extreme!

Tink *~*~*
My Mobile Adventures *~*~*

Linda said...

I guess this is sort of on the same lines. Recently, a good friend of mine died in a horrific car accident. They posted her obituary online and I signed the guestbook, leaving a contact email address should her husband want to contact me (I'd told him I had a few pictures I would email him at his request). He did indeed contact me.

But what was appalling, was that apparently, the address book was NOT protected from trollers on the web, who sent a HORRID spam message to all of us who allowed our email adresses. It had a subject line of RE: Cindy L's (last name withheld by me) guest book, and the name on the account was Cindy's husband. I thought he was contacting me again.

But it was a spam for PORN. I was devastated, as were many whose names appeared in the address book. The book was taken off line...but the damage was done. So many of us were mourning the loss of Cindy, who was a wonderful Christian woman...and to be spammed in this method...ugh.

Megan said...

I find it funny how you were inspired to write about this on Tuesday.

My Grandfather-in-law just died at 1:05pm Tuesday the 29th. I am really close to my husbands family. It just doesn't seem real that he's gone. You still expect Nan and Pap to be together some where, not just Nan.

Well, they're making arrangements today....

I thought you should also know, my WW photo for today (30th) was not taken by me. I didn't want to take some one else's credit. I guess I should have put there name. At least now you can see why I used that pic.

Anonymous said...

Hi Carmi,

I received an email from you somehow so we must have crossed paths at some point?

Anyhow, unfortunately I have experienced something similar to this firsthand. When our mother died, one of her homecare support workers sent a sympathy card. She added a P.S. at the bottom which read "when you're ready to part with the furniture, call me".

As if that wasn't bad enough, the nurse who was present when my mother died at home called me last week at home. She said she was selling her home, needed a place to live while looking for a new home, and thought I "should rent" part of my house to her as I "don't need that room to myself" since Mom died. Great eh? I've reported her to the Ontario Nursing Association.

Both of these events have somewhat coloured my thoughts on those who cared for my Mom in her last days and months. It's definitely all in bad taste for people to do things like this.


Tanya (aka NetChick) said...

Oh NO. Are you kidding me? Someone actually posted that??? Holy.

When my Dad died last November, I got a really tacky email from someone, but at least it wasn't public.

Man. That's bad.

Valerie said...

As much as I'd like to think it was a joke, there are people who unfortunately have no idea how crass they come off.

When my husband died, I received a condolence card from a woman who lived across the street from my best friend. I couldn't believe her written message:

"Now that you're single again, you, me and Peg will have to go out and party!"

If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed it.

Susan said...

Carmi, I read the obituaries. It's not out of morbidity. I'm just really fascinated with people's stories and I find it interesting to see how their loved ones (or, in the rare case when someone writes their own beforehand, they) sum of their lives. When describing someone's whole life in just a few lines, what do you say?

I've never come across anything in such bad taste, though!

Beverly said...

Oh my, that's ghastly. I have occasionally used the online tribute feature, but I generally use a more personal method, either a card or a visit, or both.

Rayne said...

oh, wow! This is cold!

Anonymous said...

Ya know I never cease to be amazed at folks. It could have been a long-standing joke between the deceased and the commenter; love and laughter cannot be held by death.
But then even if it was serious why is honesty looked down upon?
Sometimes the family could use a little extra money at such an expensive time.
just wondering...

Bubblehead said...

I have been told I have absolutly zero tact, but even I found that one over the top. Somehow I hope it was serious. You can forgive ignorance, but hard to forgive somebody causing intentional pain to be funny.

Anonymous said...

WELL I have to admit that is incredibly rude, if someone did that to me I think I'd have a major problem.
But if you think about it, maybe the family is really desperate to find a new place...still, it isn't the best way to say "sorry about your loss..."