‘Likes’ for Obituaries?


This blog is going to be very short and far from sweet. And I’d like to know what people think. In other words, is it me or do more of you share my opinion? Please read on.

A friend and neighbour has sadly died. Naturally enough, we shall attend the funeral. The details of the where and when are published as part of the obituary. Those intending to stay and pay their respects at the reception are asked to notify the undertaker by the given date. Which is why I was scrolling through obituaries on a leading funeral home website.

Each obituary is interactive. Click on one, and a new page opens that allows you to ‘light a candle’, share a memory, upload a picture or leave a message. I don’t have a problem with any of that. Grief is personal and any contribution is optional.

But why does each obituary on the main page need to display the number of candles and comments received per person? Why, at a glance with no click required, can I see that 15 people have lit candles for Bob, but only 1 person lit a candle for Tom? My lip quivered for one with 0 candles.

I realise that neither Bob nor Tom are around to give a damn, but their families certainly are because someone made arrangements with the funeral home. 

Back in the day, long before ‘Likes’ became the norm in society — and let’s be honest, clicking to light a cyber candle is just another form for expressing the same sentiment — I would have been devastated if my father, say, had received few candles. It would have been the kind of irrelevant detail that I could easily have obsessed about during those worst first weeks of grief.

Death ought to be an equaliser. Funerals and obituaries may vary from the basic to the lavish, by choice or by economic necessity, but adding a public input element to the mix disturbed me.

I didn’t light a candle. Not to buck a trend I strongly disagree with, but out of respect and fairness to the people on the page that I didn’t know. I would’ve clicked a candle for them all, because everyone counts, but each candle requires a name and a message and I’m not about to inflict a random greeting from a stranger on their families.

But is it me, or do others agree that adding a ‘Like’ function to obituaries is not a match made in heaven?

Showing 4 comments
  • Beverley Johansson

    Totally agree with you! Whatever happened to the hand written note or the bunch of flowers or phone call that show you cared enough to make an effort to give your condolences?

  • Richard Miles

    Yes I totally agree with you Ruth, the UK is not there yet but I would hate to see the grief industry go ‘keeping up with the Khardasians’ on us…

  • ruthkj@me.com

    So sorry that this reply is long over due. Been having trouble under the engine of my site, but all good now. :))

    And yes, that was exactly the thought that was worrying me.

  • ruthkj@me.com

    Well, exactly.

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