"Liking" an obituary?

John Taylor: March 24, 20148 Comments

The obituary was nicely written, sprinkled with loving memories and jovial asides in a few short sentences. It was posted on Facebook. It drew scores of “likes” from the writer’s friends and families. Wait, now. “Liking” an obituary? Is that just the way it is, just enough time spent in our hurly-burly lives?

Did any of the “likes” also invest $7 in a Hallmark card? Slip a handwritten note into an envelope? Make a donation in the deceased’s name? Call the friend to offer condolences?

We have gotten away from the tactile sense of loss – and, as well, of gratitude. When my children received gifts, they were expected to write thank-you notes. Sadly, members of my large extended family don’t send thank you’s for wedding gifts or gifts sent to their children, our grandchildren. We have no way of knowing whether they were received, liked or disliked, greeted with a smile or a sarcastic comment.

About once a year, I get a handwritten letter on slivers of notepaper from a relative in Ireland. I learn about the weather, who’s had a baby, been treated for cancer. I reply by writing a letter on my computer – my handwriting is so terrible from years of journalism that crafting a signature on a check is both painful and artless. But I do reply with content that can’t mirror her experience, but sketches our lives eight hours away. We do not share any social media tools. Our “liking” is done with personhood.

I can no longer convert or persuade my children. My grandchildren, though numerous, are most often so physically and philosophically remote from tactility that  when adult grandchildren are seated adjacent to one another they prefer to communicate by phone texting.

How do you truly respond to a kindness or an injury with a “like” or an "unfriend"?  Do we know the price of a postage stamp? Truth is we know much better the price of our cell phone plan, including data usage.

A music minister once told me, “We know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”  A few kind words, spoken or written, seem tettering on the brink of “archaic.”  I for one won’t go there willingly or quietly.


8 responses to "Liking" an obituary?

Spoken truth

I truly believe we have taken a back seat to what really matters and the importance of "personal touch." I personally feel we think less about feelings and more about the quickest way to convey how we feel. Unfortunately, "technology" becomes the center-of-attention. Basically, our lives depend on it. Or so we think it does. Truth of the matter - we decide when we want to adjust to "social norms." Not everyone feels the need to get sucked in by the pressures of "latest technology," however being the odd man out can also feel uncomfortable. In the case of "liking" an obituary- seems far from real emotion. In fact, one could argue there's no emotion. We must take a step back and look at the situation for what it's worth. Don't "like" something out of bordem. More importantly, if you can take the time to read, you can get back into the old habit of writing.

I'm kinda half way there

I agree that if you attend a funeral and you know and loved the person who is now gone and out of your life forever the proper thing to do would be flowers, card, pictures or whatever is going to be meaningful in your own individual situation.However i would like to point out that our funerals today are different then they were even 100 years ago and its one of those customary things that change with generation to generation and as a "custom" has that freedom to do so. It's all relative. In the times of the bible they would buy mourners......yes they would hire people to help mourn the dead as they marched them around town. Now this custom is no longer followed and thank goodness could you imagine the scene of your loved one hoisted in the air above the heads of their family and strangers at the funeral crying out in all their showmanship to honor the dead... no to mention the sanitation of carrying around a dead person above your head. I'm kinda glad things change because if that was the custom i would have no emotional connections to that, but in my own right when my grandpa died i did what i thought was right for us. I went and took some of his dirt from his garden and put it with his casket. i took some of my favorite pictures of him and grandma and he was buried with those. I think my kids the next generation will know what to do if they pay attention to what their heart and minds tell them to do, even if that means encorperating "likes" on a facebook obituary.

Liking an obituary

I "Like" your post!

i understand and share the

i understand and share the sentiment of attending and purchasing cards or flowers or whatever makes you feel good but i must say these are customs of their times and times are changing yet again. in the olden days they used to hire people to morn over the dead and that was all they did for weeks was morn not only on behalf of the family sometimes right along side the family. all i am saying is if we truly look at why we feel like this isn't acceptable enough to just "like" an obituary we will probably find that nothing we do is ever going to make it better for those who are left behind. And for some perception, what would past generations say about just leaving a card or flowers.

liking an obituary

I agree, i enjoy sending cards & letters to friends and family. They let me know how much they enjoy recieving them. I might not recieve them, but it doesnt stop me from sending a hand written note on stationary or a card.

Oh how right you are. If we

Oh how right you are. If we lose the ability to be humane and understand what humanity is then we become just as cold and isolated as our tech toys. I still believe in the thank notes, a real voice voicing concern and love for those who have lost and a look into the eyes of the person you are communicationg with. That is what being human means.

I was taught to do a proper

I was taught to do a proper bread and butter, always mention the item for which you are thanking someone and your plans for it, and to make sure to answer all R.S.V.P.s in time for the response to get to the sender before the event. But the truth is today I live hundreds of miles from where I was raised. I also went to boarding school my senior year of high school. So I haven't seen many good friends face to face in 30+ years. Social media has reconnected me to many people I'd lost track with. I learn where they are, how many kids (and grands), and more. Sending someone a message or text makes sure I'm not intruding in their busy lives, and to tell the truth due to my hub's soft-spokenness and my hearing loss we have been known to text or skype while in the same house. Aso I read all the time, but now my books are mostly digital, not carbon-based. The world is changing. We just have to remember the past and hot-foot it to keep up with the present.

Your thoughts were a very

Your thoughts were a very important eye- opener to my generation. It was not that long ago when letter writing was still the cool thing to do with classmates. Now I try to convince myself to steer clear from social media, but the constant evolving of certain websites still draw me in. However, I need to be careful because in today's society technology is no longer the near future...we're in the future.

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