Sometimes it’s the family we choose the matters

I experienced a refreshing change yesterday from the usual nastiness displayed by our alienating parent on genealogical website.  If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll remember that our alienating parent became an expert genealogist — as well as an expert photographer — after she realized those were interests of mine.  And then, of course, she had to post her comments and observations on websites that I’m a member of.  And, being the narcissist that she is, her conclusions are the only possible manner in which genealogy, and photography, should be conducted.

Yesterday’s discussion was in a genealogy group and dealt with how family, and non-family, members are mentioned in an obituary.  As you may recall, our alienating parent corrected both of my in-laws’, as well as my husband’s, obituaries because people were not properly identified, or people were left out.  She had not been part of our family for decades, but still felt the need to “correct” their obituaries after they were gone because she felt they had been incorrectly written.

It was wonderful to read so many comments, written by actual genealogists, about obituaries.

Here is a sampling of the remarks:

“I think when I’m dead I will have the people I love listed however I considered them.”

“Obits are clues about relationships among people when the were alive. Obits are not DNA test results.”

I have my obit written. Friends and family are listed. Some family omitted.”

“My obituary will reflect my son by birth and my son by marriage. I am now divorced from my wife and my sons (note I said sons) are grown. My sons will be reflected in my obituary as sons. There will be no words such as “step” written. And my granddaughter will be listed as my granddaughter (not using the word step) because it’s MY obituary and it’s written to honor me and those I love who have been wonderful to me. Both sons are in my will equally and they are both my sons. If this upsets someone in the future looking at my obituary so be it. It’s none of their business.”

“While genealogy is about facts, life and love aren’t always about biological facts. They are about life and love. Yes, we like to trace facts, actually need to for genealogical accuracy so it is our job to sort it all out. However, the real stories, the real lives, loves and connections are found in the feelings of those we track. I love facts but I love the heart and stories of those I learn about. It’s about people. Emotions. The stories are what I love most and often those aren’t found in facts. My trees are first and foremost about people. I hope to leave both legacies behind.”

“My husband’s best friend will be listed as his brother. Sometimes it’s the family’s we choose that matters.

“Obits are written by a bereaved family member or friend. They are not written to benefit any genealogist. When Grandma dies her family around her, biological or not, might be listed by those who write the obit. An obituary is not a fact, it is a chronology of someone’s life, not a lineage document.”

“Write it as you wish. Tell the story of his life. Tell as much or as little as you want. Obits are not the place to give family members labels. I have at times seen step-child or adopted child mentioned, but rarely. Bottom line, you all write it any way you want to, or write none at all. No one’s business but yours.”

“Obituaries are for the survivors. The immediate grievers are the most important. Whatever will be beneficial to their healing is most important. Future generations can figure it out or not.”

There were people in the group who disagreed with the above comments, but most genealogists know that obituaries are not meant to be factual documents.  And the most pleasant part of these discussions was that fact that no one was a bully, demanding that the way they felt was the only appropriate way to feel about the subject matter.  Everyone was very respectful of other’s opinions.

In all of my dealings with our alienating parents over the past 35 years, I have never once had my opinion given merit, or respected.  But that’s what happens when you have to deal with a narcissistic, alienating parent.

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