When my mom died, there was no notice in the paper. When my dad died, there wasn't one either, the family was notified by telephone. At least, they were not texted which I think would have been disrespectful.
Obituaries used to mean something. It told the world that someone important to someone had passed away. Even if it was in a small newspaper, people read them. If they knew the person, they somehow made contact with the rest of the family to offer their condolences. Today, on facebook, a "sorry" is offered. Please forgive me, I am guilty of doing that once and should have sent a card or made a call.
For those researching family history, it is more disturbing. The obituary told us a little about the person; who they were, what they did. It sometimes told us how they died. It gave us family members. It told us time and place. Those facts are hard to come by. Oh, we get date and place and sometime cause of death and occupation but it is all very impersonal.
My mom died on May 8, 1998. She died in Perris, California. She was retired. She died of a heart attack. That doesn't begin to tell us who she was and she was so much more. On the other hand, here's what the obituary for my grandfather read:
Death Claims E. M. Yeakley/Veteran Printer, Preacher here since 1911
Reverend Ernest M. Yeakley, 56, veteran Wichita Falls printer and Baptist minister, died Monday night about 10:30 o'clock at a Wichita Falls hospital. Yeakley, who came to Wichita Falls in 1911 went to the hospital a few days ago suffering from a paralytic condition. A heart attack was the cause of his sudden death Monday night. Yeakley had worked on newspapers in many Texas towns. He was one of the first printer employed by the Times Publishing Company after its institution in Wichita Falls. In recent years he was employed in newspapers in Gainesville and Sherman. He held pastorates in Baptist churches in dundee, Black Flat, and Kamay within the last few years, being the minister at the Kamay Baptist Church in 1937 and 1938. Yeakley , who made his home at 1317 Eighteenth, survived his wife by approximately five years. He had been employed at the Buchanan Stationery Company as a printer for almost a year. Survivors include five sons, Lee M. Yeakley, Wichita Falls, Noel Yeakley, Dickens, Texas, Don Yeakley, Houston, J. D. Yeakley, San Diego, Calif, Pvt. Eugene Yeakley, Denver, Colo; three daughters, Mrs M.E. Edmonds, Houston and Misses Ruby and Lola Mae Yeakley, both of Wichita Falls; one brother, Lynn Yeakley, Gainesville; two sisters, Mrs. Nola King, Gainesville, and Mrs. Jennie Riley, Gainesville, and 12 grandchildren. Funeral arrangements in charge of Owens and Brumley Funeral Home are incomplete awaiting word for the sons at Denver and San Diego.
There was also a picture that put a face to the name.