NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

March 6, 2014

Reading obituaries may comfort a lonely heart

Dear Abby: “Still Alive in San Diego” (Nov. 22) said she reads the obituaries every day and feels somehow disappointed when she doesn’t see a name she recognizes. She asked if it was “weird” and you told her yes, that it seemed like a lack of empathy.

I don’t agree. What’s happening is this woman is lonely and the activity has become the hub of her day. It gives her something — sadly — to look forward to and a sense of closeness to her acquaintances when she recognizes their names.

My advice to her would be to find another way to fill the void and not obsess about the obits. Joining a club or taking up a physical activity would allow her to meet people. I’m betting she will feel less of a need to connect to the obituaries if she expands her social circle to include the living.

Been There, Too, In Rhode Island

Dear Been There, Too: Your point is well-stated, and it was echoed by other readers who, like you, read between the lines of “Still Alive’s” short letter. Read on:

Dear Abby: If the letter-writer is ill, disabled, elderly or has outlived most of her companions, it might explain her “letdown” when no one she knows appears in the obituaries. Seeing a familiar name may bring back memories of better times and make her feel more connected to the outside world.

Julie In Wisconsin

Dear Abby: An obituary is more than a death announcement. It tells a story. It’s often the last memory loved ones have of someone cherished, and it’s the deceased’s introduction to a sea of strangers.

Obituaries are scrapbooked and prized, and researched for generations by genealogists, historians and relatives looking to complete their family tree. A well-done obituary is the final word on how a person is remembered.

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