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SongwriterFan
01-24-2009, 09:30 AM
If an obituary simply says that Joe Blow "died suddenly", what does that typically mean?

Is it common NOT to say that he died of a heart-attack or stroke? Or in a car crash? Etc?

I can really only think of one thing where those writing the obituary would probably have good reason to say it that way. But is it common to say it that way even for heart attacks/etc?

12Stringer
01-24-2009, 09:41 AM
people dont like to talk about death, makes them think about their own mortality, in america we tend to whitewash the ugliness of death, we use funeral homes to "sterilize" the reality of it, and tend to speed through the process of loss. You will really never see a obit that states true cause of death.

Brent Hutto
01-24-2009, 09:48 AM
I can't recall any obits of people I've known that said anything beyond "after a short illness" or similar. One time a number of years ago I did see one that said "after a long battle with cancer" or something along that line. Often you can read between the lines when the family suggests a donation to the American Cancer Society or American Heart Association but other than that you generally have to just find out from friends or family.

Heck, unless they died from Bubonic Plague it's not really my business anyway. Dead is dead.

Folkstrum
01-24-2009, 09:52 AM
I know they will often euphemize cancers to "after a lengthy/prolongned illness," or other phrases. I've been told by the American Cancer Society, and funeral home directors this may be done to prevent those battling cancer to maintain hope, and an optimistic attitude. People don't wish to read about someone who has died fighting the same diseases. Hey--just relaying the information.

As for "suddenly," again a euphemism for any number of imaginable reasons. Might be heart; might be embolism, massive stroke...many possibilities. The entire "funeral business" is meant to give closure, and sometimes the only way someone can begin to accept the death of a loved-one is to see them in a coffin (I'm not trying to knock funeral homes or morticians). However, this used to be done in people's homes-hence the term "funeral parlor." The entire experience though is one fraught with euphemizing death: "he's asleep," "he's at peace," "she just passed away in her sleep," names for the various parlors IN a funeral home, like: "the room of eternal rest" (yes, I've actually seen that!), and of course the best clothing available, rare woods and pricey metals used to build something to bury underground in a concrete vault, etc. Did you know along with furniture, casket makers use most of the best woods out there? Even Braz back when.

Sorry to wax on so long.

yardism
01-24-2009, 10:23 AM
How about the phrase "an untimely death". What is a timely one?

HHP
01-24-2009, 10:29 AM
Redneck obits usually say "He died after uttering the phrase, 'Hey, watch this!'"

Specifically, "died suddenly" is a current euphemism relating to frozen turkeys and deep fryers.

rosewoodsteel
01-24-2009, 10:49 AM
Redneck obits usually say "He died after uttering the phrase, 'Hey, watch this!'"


Now that is funny!

SongwriterFan
01-24-2009, 11:57 AM
So, it's NOT a good indication that it was suicide?

That's good to know.

Brent Hutto
01-24-2009, 12:24 PM
How about the phrase "an untimely death". What is a timely one?

For someone who is suffering, unable to interact with his loved ones and has no hope of recovery...it's timely if it's sooner and untimely if it's later. For the rest of us, the opposite.

HHP
01-24-2009, 12:27 PM
If they just hit the Powerball, its untimely for them and timely for their relatives.

flaggerphil
01-24-2009, 01:24 PM
I always thought it meant exactly what it said...the person died suddenly and unexpectedly. Sometimes those obits are written literally within a couple hours of the person dying and the writer simply doesn't know the cause.

Mary
01-26-2009, 06:11 AM
[QUOTE=HHP;1725528]Redneck obits usually say "He died after uttering the phrase, 'Hey, watch this!'" QUOTE]

It was good to know I 'ain't' the only one who smirked at this comment. It brought a light to the subject. ;)

Bob1131
01-26-2009, 06:37 AM
I always thought it meant exactly what it said...the person died suddenly and unexpectedly.

When someone dies after a long battle with cancer, ALS or some other fatal condition, the death is not as much of a shock to the family, for they usually have had time to accept and prepare somewhat for the inevitable outcome. In fact, sometimes the family is relieved that the suffering has stopped. But, when an obit reads that the person died "suddenly" or "unexpectedly," it is reasonable to assume that the family was shocked and may be particularly grieved by the loss. It can also imply a traumatic death, such as, an accident, murder, heart attack or suicide. However, the important message is that the family was taken by surprise. As a friend of the family or person who died, I find it helpful to know the situation, as it will often dictate how I can respond and comfort them.

RustyAxe
01-26-2009, 06:58 AM
"Died suddenly" or "died unexpectedly" are commonly seen. People who know the deceased know what killed him/her. And those who don't know, don't need to.

SongwriterFan
01-26-2009, 07:40 AM
As a friend of the family or person who died, I find it helpful to know the situation, as it will often dictate how I can respond and comfort them.

Exactly.

I'm just a bit worried that perhaps it was suicide. Though I'm hoping it was heart attack or something similar.

beach bob
01-26-2009, 10:20 AM
Lots of possibilities, when one reads "died suddenly" in the obits.

E.G., I just found out that an acquaintance of mine, friend of a friend, just passed away last week. I knew he was fighting illness for a long time, hepatitis as I recall. And six months ago he was diagnosed with cancer.... Then the cancer took a turn, and he lasted just two weeks once he was hospitalized. In my book, he died suddenly; certainly the phone call I got about Bruce was unexpected. Yet for years, he knew, and we all knew, he was basically living on borrowed time.

Thus, I wouldn't interpret much into reading that someone "died suddenly". Nobody wants the nasty details [assuming there are any] laid out in the notification in the paper. I am not sure how it works now, but there used to be staff writers on newspapers that wrote those blurbs. I assume that standard phrasings are used to spare the feelings of those nearest, while informing of the person's passing.

SongwriterFan
01-26-2009, 11:32 AM
I assume that standard phrasings are used to spare the feelings of those nearest,

I see it differently.

Those nearest (family) probably already KNOW what the cause of death was . . and probably even discuss it.

Saying "heart attack" in the obit instead of saying "died suddenly" is what I would argue would spare the feelings of the family. That way, they don't have to field questions from friends/etc who are bound to ask.

And friends (like me in this case) don't have to sit around wondering, afraid to ask.