How to handle pronouns and avoid deadnaming in an obituary

When a transgender or gender non-conforming person passes away, preserving their identity is essential to tell their life story right. (Getty Images)

There are many articles on Beyond the Dash that can help our readers learn to write an obituary. Whether you’re honoring a mother, father, child, both your parents, yourself, or someone else, we always encourage obituary writers to double-check the accuracy of family details first, including names, dates, places, relationships and events. Even within close-knit families, a misspelled name, incorrect birthday or missing survivor can create family drama, particularly when tension is high after a death.

If anyone mentioned in the obituary is LGBTQ+, there might be additional factual details to verify before writing an obituary. …


Tips for when and how to include sexuality in an obituary

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, non-binary, queer and asexual relationships belong in the telling of life stories. Here are some considerations to make when writing an obituary. (Getty Images)

Obituaries are a standard way of remembering those who have passed away. Unfortunately, this way of remembering loved ones can also exacerbate family drama, and there are often complaints within families about how obituaries are written.

Most often these complaints can be chalked up to tension in the family, but it’s unfair and discriminatory when a family member is excluded from a loved one’s obituary on the basis of their sexuality. It’s even worse when the deceased person is the one whose identity is being erased from their own life story.

HOW DOES SEXUALITY RELATE TO OBITUARIES?

The gay rights movement has led to many families…


Open communication alone can’t prevent a ‘bad death’. Privilege plays a significant role in achieving a better ending.

The ideal of a ‘good death’ is central to the death positive movement. But inequalities in our world make the possibility of dying well unlikely for hundreds of millions. (Renato Danyi/Pexels)

For some, it means quick and painless. For others, final moments with loved ones are most important. Maintaining autonomy and feeling heard by caregivers is often a key factor.

Most people don’t like to think about their own death. However, identifying critical end-of-life values can help people achieve a death that inflicts the least amount of emotional and physical harm. While a good death is more possible through open communication and willingness to delve into existential discomfort, it is not always possible, or even likely, for those who experience a reduced quality of life due to social inequality.

Privilege may…


Is taking care of plants the most death positive hobby?

Houseplants can teach us death acceptance/Beyond the Dash
Houseplants can teach us death acceptance/Beyond the Dash
Houseplants can teach you a lot about life and death — even if you kill them.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about death. As an obit writer, death blogger and adult orphan, I engage with my mortality every day. Even though most scary death stuff has been demystified over the years, thoughts of life’s end occasionally become overwhelming. I’m only human.

Death is so baked into all aspects of my life that I decided to counterbalance the doom and gloom with a relaxing, life-affirming hobby: plants. I didn’t realize that this cheerful diversion was about to turn my handful of losses into scores. …


PARIS, FRANCE — AUGUST 31: Iconic photos, flowers and messages dedicated to pay homage to Diana, Princess of Wales to the 20th anniversary of her death adorn the plinth of the Flame of Liberty statue on August 31, 2017 in Paris, France. Princess Diana is died in a car crash on August 31, 1997 near the Pont de l’Alma tunnel. The Flame of Liberty statue became the unofficial memorial to Diana, Princess of Wales. (Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)

JFK, Michael Jackson, Princess Di and beyond

On August 31, 1997, my mother awoke to the news of Princess Diana’s death, as did the rest of the world. I remember watching her clip a news article about the princess out of the newspaper and solemnly tuck it into the drawer that also stored the obituary clipping of my dead grandpa.

“There are some things you just keep to remember,” was all she said, wiping away tears.

It baffled me that some faraway princess would deserve a place in the family’s obituary drawer when we didn’t even know her. She was rocked by the death of Princess Diana…


Why handling remains isn’t all that bad

Most people are averse to touching human remains. But cremains are harmless, and can teach us a lot about grief. (Getty Images)

I opened my mom’s urn and got a lungful of cremains. For years I was ashamed of this moment — until I discovered that curiosity about remains is not only normal, but healthy.

Like a twisted version of leaving a wedding with a keepsake centerpiece, I left mom’s funeral with a keepsake urn.

I never thought I’d be the type of person to display an urn on my mantle, but I was wild with grief when I decided to purchase the tiny silver vault. We always knew mom would be cremated — she insisted on it even before she got…


Things to consider before posting about a death on Facebook or Twitter

Remember to leave time and space for those closest to the deceased person to learn of the death, and process the initial shock. (BeyondTheDash.com)

NOTIFY CLOSE LOVED ONES IN PERSON

People who were very close with the deceased person, including relatives and friends, should be notified in person, or via telephone at the very least. There is no good reason for letting people find out while browsing the internet that their best friend, grandmother, son, or significant other has passed away.

Make sure you make contact with all of the closest people to the deceased before posting anything on social media.

TIMING MATTERS

The first 24 hours following a death are a period of shock for most people, whether the loss was expected or unexpected. If you choose to announce a death…


Memorialize your loved one’s accomplishments and unique personality in 10 easy steps

This handy infographic can help you craft the life story of your loved one, step-by-step. Feel free to share this image with anyone who may be struggling with the writing of an obituary.

Originally published on Beyond the Dash.com


Funerals are expensive. Give the give of extra time and financial leeway to a bereaved friend or relative. (Getty)

Put your money where your mouth is

I returned home one summer in university to support my mother as she lived out her final few months on earth. She had asked me not to take on a summer job, offering to support me through the summer so that we could spend time together. She died two weeks later.

Though my mom’s death changed parts of my life forever, the most immediate challenge was paying my bills with this unexpected financial change and no job. …


Making the holiday season bearable during grief

During my childhood, Christmas was a time to pull out the record player, dust off the Boney M vinyl and pick childish ornaments out of an old Woodward’s hat box for the tree. My mom, sister and I loved to play out our roles in the traditional Christmas year after year. Our script for the holidays was simple, but it was ours.

Even though the record is now scratched and the box offers no protection, I still have these artifacts of Christmas. They remind me of mom.

Many families re-create old memories during the holiday season. Every family has a…

Brigitte Ganger

Editor, blogger, orphan, grief analyst and plant parent.

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