Columnists

Scathing Obituaries: Justified or Disrespectful?

Issue 8.17

Recently, the Huffington Post published an article entitled, “‘Relieved’ Family Writes Scathing Obituary For ‘Evil’ Father.”  Written by Hilary Hanson, the article discusses an obituary that was penned for a 75-year-old Galveston, TX, man who died of cancer in January.  His obituary has generated a lot of buzz for its description of the deceased and reportedly crashed the funeral home’s website due to the large number of people trying to read it.

The obituary begins, “Leslie Ray “Popeye” Charping lived 29 years longer than expected and much longer than he deserved.”  The obituary continues, “Leslie’s hobbies included being abusive to his family, expediting trips to heaven for the beloved family pets and fishing, which he was less skilled with than the previously mentioned.  Leslie’s life served no other obvious purpose, he did not contribute to society or serve his community and he possessed no redeeming qualities besides quick whited (sic) sarcasm which was amusing during his sober days.”

Ms. Hanson notes that the author of the obituary, who identifies Charping as her father, sent a statement to a local news station.  The station did not reveal her identity.  She claims that her father “hated a liar” and would have “appreciated the honesty” of what she wrote.

The obituary continues that “with Leslie’s passing he will be missed only for what he never did; being a loving husband, father and good friend. No services will be held, there will be no prayers for eternal peace and no apologizes to the family he tortured. . . .Leslie’s passing proves that evil does in fact die and hopefully marks a time of healing and safety for all.  Although I appreciate everyone’s concern, it would have been much more appreciated at any time during my childhood.  For those being cruel, please remember that you now resemble my father and I would be more than happy to pen your obituary as well.”

Wow.  In my experience as a funeral director, families with similar situations generally choose to not publish an obituary rather than to air their “dirty laundry” in public.  However, what may be considered disrespectful for one family may be considered needful for another.  In the end, it is up to each family to decide what is appropriate.  And as a caveat – when in doubt, write your own obituary.

Serenity Funeral Home is located just off Riverside Drive at 1316 S. 400 E., St. George, UT, (435) 986-2085, www.SerenityStG.com.

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