Obituary code.

I have now seen the exact same two vague phrases in obituaries for acquaintances (for lack of a better description) of mine, both of whom died quite young.

The first one was for a former coworker who died in her early 40's some months ago. She was a nice person who had a pain pill problem, and was fired. That’s all I’ll say about her. Her obituary contained the following phrases:

Died at home unexpectedly.”


“Was at a happy and productive stage in her life.”

The word productive sticks out like a neon sign to me. Nothing against productivity, but I sure hope nobody ever sums up my life by saying, “Eh, he was productive.” To me, “Was at a happy and productive stage in her life” reads as, “We thought she had pulled her life back together after that thing happened.”


That’s no judgement against the families. It’s a very sad thing to deal with, and there’s really no good way to address it. I’ve dealt with it in my family as well. It’s a very sad mess.

Today I found out somebody I went to school with passed away a little over a month ago. Don’t offer any condolences to me, we weren’t friends or anything. In fact, I’m not certain we ever had a conversation with each other. I know we went to high school together, and I think we went to middle school together ... but honestly I’m not sure. To say we were acquaintances is to say I knew her name. She may or may not have known mine, I have no idea.


Anyways, her obituary has those exact same phrases in it. I don’t know anything about her or her life, but those phrases make me think she died of an overdose as well. Whether she did or not, a set of parents had to say goodbye to a 37 year old daughter, and that’s a pain that as a father I cannot imagine.

Sorry, I didn’t mean for this post to be a bummer. I guess obituaries are just a really weird thing. To try and sum up somebodies life in a paragraph of three, they just end up so bizarre to my eyes.

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