Have You Had Your Picture Taken for your Obit yet?

At a gathering the other night a group of women were talking about a recent death, and the obituary in the newspaper.  I said I really liked the picture that was included — it was probablay 10-15 years old and showed the guy at the peak of health.  I had only known him the last few years when he was in poor health, so I felt it was nice to see “the real him.”

This started a debate about pictures in obituaries.  I was really surprised that my opinion was wayyyy outnumbered.  No one else seemed to enjoy the pictures that are now included with obituaries.  But, they were especially critical of the ones that are obviously from long ago.  My defense of that is, if the person had been sick for a long time, the family probably enjoyed remembering (and wanted those reading the obituary to remember also) her/him when they were young and obviously healthy, rather than one taken in recent years that might, for instance, show them with their oxygen tubes.

So, if everyone feels as this group did, maybe popular opinion will make the pictures go away.  But I, for one, enjoy them.  It also allows you to see a picture and think, “Hey, that’s that waitress or sales clerk that I always liked dealing with!” even though you didn’t know her name.

Just shows how the same subject can have such widely different opinions!  What do you think?

(I will be interested to read what you think when I return from vacation next Saturday.  See ya!) 

15 Responses to Have You Had Your Picture Taken for your Obit yet?

  1. SBW says:

    I don’t read the obits and didn’t know that pictures are now standard practice. But I do think I take your side on this issue.

    I can’t remember who it was who did this – maybe it was my sister when her husband was so sick in the hospital – but the wife put a picture of her husband next to his hospital bed. It was a picture of him in the prime of life, smiling, vibrant, healthy, and surrounded by family. It was a reminder to visitors and the staff that the patient wasn’t “just” a sick and fading person, but someone who was loved and had a life worth fighting for. The person in the hospital bed was more than a patient.

    I know I’m going off on a tangent, but your post reminded me of that. The person in the obit isn’t just a person who died, but a person who lived.

  2. I agree, use a photo from a happier time from their life. I like seeing photos in the obits. When I see patients that I have cared for, I love seeing how they “used” to look.

    Hope vacation is/was going well!

  3. Cyndie says:

    I agree with you on this subject. I like seeing the pictures because, like you, I often recognize the picture but not the name. I think the pictures add a personal touch to the obits in the paper and online. When my husband’s mother died we had to choose a picture for the paper. We picked one that we wanted people to remember her by, not how she actually looked when she passed away.

  4. tz says:

    well it’s not like it’s a personal ad where someone might feel ‘lied’ to when dating someone who used a much younger picture…

    I think whatever picture the family chooses should be respected, it’s the way the family wants their loved one remembered…really has nothing to do with the rest of us…just the family left behind…

  5. tz says:

    oh and…hope you had a great vacation! Have you figured out pictures yet..I’m one of those crazy people who would like to get invited to watch slides from other people’s vacations…

  6. Danielle says:

    Hope you had a wonderful time away….I am on clinical placement for the next 2 weeks…so wont be “around” as often….

    FWIW…Personally for me….I want the best picture ever taken….something, young , vibrant and full of life !

    Oh and I’m with TZ…I love slide nights ! LOL

  7. Sandra says:

    SBW — I think that is a wonderful idea — putting a “healthy” picture on the bedside table.

    And, I love your sentiment “The person in the obit isn’t just a person who died, but a person who lived.” My thought exactly.

    CE — Glad you agree. I feel that sometimes the picture is as much a “tribute” to the person as what is written.

    Cyndie — My point exactly. Let’s remember them at their best.

    tz — Yeah, looking for dates on the obit page — not good use of one’s time :} And I love it when families DO take the time to pick a picture — no matter what age.

    Danielle — I know you are conscientious in your job, but I will miss hearig from you those weeks. Hurry back.

    Regarding the photos, I do see “glamor shots” once in a while — and I love those too! Guess I just love looking at pictures!

    And that leads me to this, to all of you — Yes,thank you, we had a wonderful vacation in Gatlinburg. And, yes,I love pictures too. And if I had even an ounce of technical ability I would take and post pictures — but I don’t! No one is more sorry than me. But, for my next post I will describe our vacation in such great detail that you will all have no problem at all visualizing exactly what we did and how it looked!

  8. New Diva says:

    I’m with you. The picture is A. a nice touch and B. a way for the family to show how they would like that person to be remembered.
    Look forward to hearing about your vacation.

  9. wittfamily says:

    I like the idea of a picture of a person in fullness, well and having a good time! After-all that is how I best like to remember them!

  10. Sandra says:

    New Diva — I agree totally. I’m working on the vacation stuff.

    Christy — That’s my point exactly. Thanks for agreeing.

  11. Betty Rose says:

    I certainly don’t want a picture of me in the last stages of living but one that even old friends will recognize. If my last picture to be published is to be of me just before I die, I should have died a long time ago to get a good picture. I don’t think an unflattering picture is very respectful to the deceased, do you? I do like the pictures to be published, it makes the obit. seem more real but maybe we should all pick the picture to go with our obituary now and make sure all our children know which one it is.

  12. Sandra says:

    Hi, Betty Rose! I know exactly the picture I think you should pick — one at your wedding with your flower girl in it! Oh, wait a minute. They probably frown on you having other people in your obit. picture with you. Do you think? :}

    Okay, really, you’ve never taken a bad picture in your life, so you won’t have any trouble coming up with a good one, and I DO like your idea of picking the picture ahead of time that we want used.

  13. Wow ! A group of us were just discussing obituary pictures while looking at the new portrait of my husband and myself! I said it would probably be our obit picture since we are both in our 50’s and look about as we have for a few years now. My husbands’ health has been deteriorating rapidly and he looks good in this picture .This prompted many of the same comments you have heard….I think this picture would be one that anyone who knows us will recognize and also taken in a part of life where our grandchildren will have remembered much of their childhood knowing us.and interacting with us.

    The sad, sad obit pictures are the ones that look like the family had to scramble and search for ANY picture and submitted such a bad picture (one that looks like the deceased was accidently caught in a picture taken of somebody else in a family gathering) that the obit should have been printed sans photo!

    Anyway, maybe in the end, really all that matters is what we did for Jesus, and that IS for eternity.Hopefully the people who remember me from here on earth will be with me in Heaven where there are NO obituaries! Praise Him, KathyB.

  14. Sandra says:

    Thank you for stopping by, Kathy. I looked at your web site and love the pictures of your Jacob sheep! The lambs are absolutely adorable. I can see why you love them.

    Yes, really all that matters is Heaven, but I’d still like to have a picture in my obit. that makes me look like I at least enjoyed SOME of my time here on Earth! :}

  15. Barb says:

    I really appreciate it when a pic is included with the obit. Sometimes you know someone, but don’t know their name….works at a store you go to, etc.

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