January 12, 2007

A Picture Is Worth A Slap On The Wrist

With 2006 being the year of death for me and my family, I’ve taken to the practice of reading the local obituaries every day. I’ve always thought that a simple, concise obituary is all that is necessary. No razzle dazzle. Just the facts, ma’am. So you can imagine how I feel about obituaries that include a picture of the deceased. Don’t like them. Photographs are unnecessary and are usually an insult either to the dead person or to the intelligence of the person who saw it fit to include said picture.

The following are actual pictures taken from obituaries:

Example #1: The How-I-Looked-Sixty-Years-Ago Photo

These pictures are provided only for old people, usually over 80. I don’t quite understand the point of it. How would someone recognize the person from a picture taken that long ago? Maybe people don’t take pictures of their friends and relatives after their hair becomes gray and their skin begins to wither and the young pictures are all they have. How silly would it be if a person died when they were in their 50s and the obituary picture was one of the person in his or her teens? Just as silly with really old people. It's pointless and stupid.

Example #2: The How-I-Looked-When-I-Died-But-What-A-Stupid-Picture Photo

Maybe to family members and friends this type of picture brings back wonderful memories, but for strangers, the dead person looks like a dork. I can only hope that it’s an inside joke that the deceased could appreciate, because to the uniformed reader they just look dumb.

Example #3: The Glamour Shot Photo

Why would you do it? It provides a nasty picture of the deceased, and also portrays them as a sucker for getting conned into having the tacky portrait done in the first place. Chances are she’ll look more glamorous in the casket than she does in the Glamour Shot.

People do strange things when someone dies. And it’s really sad when people like me criticize the choices made by someone out of his head with grief. But to all of you out there who will be arranging a funeral and composing an obituary sometime in the future (and you will), I suggest you remember only one word to ensure your loved one will not be mocked by the likes of me. Dignity. Pictures will definitely compromise the dead person’s dignity. Trust me, a thousand words would be much better.

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