Ask Amy: Should obituaries include ex-spouses?


dear Amy: My father passed away recently.

I am the child of his first wife. He also had a child with his second wife, to whom he was married for 50 years. My half-brother “Gerald” and I get along well.

Our father’s obituary was written in such a way as to make it sound like his second wife was his only wife, with no mention of my mother.

Dad was important in his field, and his Wikipedia article makes no mention of his marriage to my mother. My name and the names of my children are recognized, but the implication is that I am the child of his second wife.

My mother never got over my father’s infidelity and desertion. She is hurt to have been written like that.

Do I need to say something to my brother to change this so that my mother is recognized in her story? Should obituaries and biographies be truthful about exes?

I’ve lived my life tiptoeing around the animosity between my parents, and I want this sad saga to end.

– Loving but sad daughter

Dear love: Many obituaries are actually “obituaries”, written by family members and/or funeral homes.

Strictly speaking, obituaries are written by journalists and are published in newspapers and magazines. Obituaries attempt to tell a person’s life story, and yes, they must be factually correct.

If “Gerald” wrote the notice, he purposely and wrongly omitted your mother’s name, as family members sometimes do (some family members of the deceased even write competing obituaries, including including different information about their loved one).

He might have done it to protect his mother’s feelings or reputation.

Whoever composed your father’s Wikipedia page may have used the obituary as a source, mistakenly omitting your mother’s name.

Your brother may also have written or edited the Wikipedia entry, deliberately omitting your mother’s name.

Biographies and Wikipedia entries must be factually correct.

This Wikipedia entry should be revised. You could change it yourself – and you should let your brother know that you are concerned that the information about your father’s life is not only incorrect, but also hurtful to you because it erases your mother’s identity and creates a false impression about your identity.

Unfortunately, the long-standing dynamic in your family probably won’t end, even with the death of your father. But maybe it’s time for you to stop tiptoeing.

dear Amy: I think it’s time for pet owners to take a hard look at their beliefs and behaviors and give people who don’t have pets a break.

My mother and uncle suffered from animal allergies, and the problems ranged from nasty skin lesions and eye irritations to alarming respiratory problems.

When I saw similar problems starting with me, I promised myself that I would never have pets. My health is better thanks to it.

Please stop viewing me as unfriendly because I don’t want to pet your dog or cat or have your bird perch on me whether allergies are a factor or not.

Please don’t tell me my allergies aren’t real because you can’t see them. Please leave your pets at home when you come to see me. Please stop telling me that volunteering at the shelter would change my mind.

Please don’t tell me that letting your dog wander into my yard to poop (and leave evidence there) is something I shouldn’t be complaining about” because if you had a pet, you would understand”.

No veterinarian: I get why people see their pets as “family”, but some humans use that as an excuse for every choice about their pets.

Family members need boundaries! (Do you take your toddler where you know he’s not welcome? Do you let Aunt Harriet poop on your neighbor’s lawn?)

Allergies aren’t the only reason some humans don’t want to be around animals, and yes, pet sitters should respect the choices of others.

dear Amy: As “Constantly listening“, I too need a TV to sleep in, which distracts my mind so I can sleep.

As an adult, I realized that this TV addiction was the result of hearing my mother in the living room watching TV after I went to bed as a child. It was comforting.

I now keep the TV in another room (formerly in a closet!) or in a TV cabinet with doors.

Then I have the sound without the flickering light.

I sleep beautifully and soundly.

Comforted: I appreciate the background to your habit — and I applaud your solution!

©2022 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by content agency Tribune.

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