Revenge Obituary

You have probably seen it. An obituary that was not complementary of the the deceased. I have no doubt that this will start a new trend of people taking a last jab at someone they don’t like. To me the issue isn’t whether the deceased deserved the scorn. To me, the issue is the lost sanctuary of the obituary column in the paper. Like a cemetery or a church, there were certain places that enjoyed the mutual respect of the community that this is a place for respect and if you have disrespect to offer, please take it somewhere else. No one is saying you have to sing someone’s praises, but if you must denigrate, even if justifiably, please do so in a forum where that can be expected, and allow the places of respect to remain respectful. It is arguable that a person was not entitled to the sanctuary or a place of respect like the obituary column, but for the sake of those who do deserve respect it would be nice if we allowed this respectful tradition to remain safe. I am reminded of festivus, the agnostic ritual celebrated by the Costanza family in Seinfeld. Perhaps someone may want to start a place to disrespect the dead, an “airing of the grievances” type of place where a person can vent about the dead. I feel like this is a million dollar idea that I will not capitalize on. One note about some practical issues with a revenge obituary. You may realize that I did not provide a link to the obituary in question. I think people should be mindful of libel/defamation. It has been often said that you can’t defame a dead person. But in this obituary, third parties were also referenced. Also, in some states, there are now rights of the deceased in their lifetime persona such as for celebrities. I don’t know if the deceased was a celebrity in the case in question, but some states do have rights for the deceased. There are also issues related to public disclosure of private facts. These things give me enough pause to make me think twice before I might publish a revenge obituary.


About Robert McLeod

I can help you fight a will, fight a power of attorney, will contest, fight a guardianship, fight a conservatorship, create or revoke powers of attorney, wills or revocable trusts. What is probate? I can answer that for you. I can help you with all your probate needs.
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