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Death Notice to Class - Wording

Forums: General Discussion
Created on: 02/19/15 03:17 PM Views: 11059 Replies: 11
Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 3:17 PM

Someone must have encountered this especially newer sites still searching for "Missing Classmates" like me. I was just notified that a classmate passed away - but in 2009.

For recently deceased classmates, I normally dedicate the Home Page to them with their obit, send an email blast to classmates with a standard "There are times when it is necessary to communicate news that is painful to all of us. It is with great sorrow that I inform you that...." and also do a video for their "In Memory" page if I can obtain pictures.

HOWEVER - Is that appropriate for a classmate who died 6 years ago? And, if so, how should wording be changed so that no one gets confused? I certainly want to acknowledge that classmate & will post the obit/do an In Memory page for him. But because it was so long ago,

1) Should I still dedicate the Home Page to him - maybe for a few days or week?

2) EMAIL BLAST DRAFT WORDING: "We recently found out and now regret to inform you that another classmate passed away approximately six years ago. Vincent Otterbine, 53, passed away Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009, in Arlington, TX. Please visit our Home Page for further details."

Thanks for your help kids!

(I hate being "Debbie Downer" !)

Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 4:00 PM - Response #1

Hi. When we have a classmate death (or an immediate family member of a classmate) - I post an announcement on our home page. I'll add the classmate to the In Memory. Family members of classmates are added to a link I created entitled "Family Obituaries).

Since launching my site in 2009, there have been a few occasions where I learn of the death of a classmate some years after the fact. In those cases - I post a belated condolence message on the home page, with a note as to how I happened to learn of the death.
*Most of my pages are password protected - but if you have an interest in any area of the site - all protected pages have a system password of 'petunia'

Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 4:43 PM - Response #2

We have a class of over 450. It's a sad reality that the older our class gets the more classmates we lose each year. We have already lost too many too young. Eventually the numbers will be very large. How we will honor their memories will no doubt change with time.

What we have done is list obituary info on the "In Memory" page along with a brief email to the class. I think regardless of when the classmate died, you could use the same format for your text:

Some have left us. . . .

We are saddened to inform you that we learned recently of the death of one of our classmates. "Jane Smith Jones" passed away "Date" in "Place". List the obituary link and/or obituary text.

Since you never know when links will expire, I try to copy the information on the "In Memory" page from the newspaper along with a credit to the source.

On a related topic, we will celebrate our 35th reunion this summer. At our 25th reunion, we collected some photos of classmates (some were yearbook photos) from friends and family and had a small memorial display table with photos and candles at the Saturday evening dinner.

Now that there are more classmate deaths, we decided instead of a memorial display for all deceased classmates, we will have a moment of silence as names of classmates who died since the last reunion are shared via a Power Point.

I hope that helps with some ideas for honoring classmates.

Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 5:19 PM - Response #3

Karen, I like your wording on your EMAIL BLAST. {I have saved it in the event that we need to do that type announcement.}
We have had only two occasions where we learned of a classmate that passed several years earlier.

While we don't 'dedicate' the Home Page, we do post an announcement on the Home Page for 7 or 10 days, listing the obituary from the funeral home or newspaper.
The obituary is also pasted in the classmates In Memory entry.

Additionally, we email the class with something to the effect:

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of 'John Doe' on his passing on 'February 30.'
Please see the announcement on the home page for more information.

We do the email and announcement when a spouse, parent, or child of classmates passes as well.

Edited 02/19/15 5:28 PM
Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 5:27 PM - Response #4

Whenever we learn of a classmates passing we always "Email the Class" as well as update our "In Memory" Page. It's really a simple matter to tailor your words to a "recent" passing or one that has been recently discovered. Because we have, as many sites do, "missing classmates"... our classmates are always appreciative of being updated of a classmates passing, regardless of when it occurred.

Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 5:42 PM - Response #5

I think one of the most important things that has not been mentioned here is "how many notices do classmates want to receive?" For that reason, I post deceased "In Memory" with copied obituary (no links, as was mentioned). The generates a notification that the classmate can manage. The same with"Family Obituaries" which I have defined as parents, spouses, siblings, and God forbid, children, as well as former teachers. That link also sends a notification, so there is no reason to email blast also.

I send a first-of-the-month newsletter that reiterates this news, so they get it twice, along with any other news. My classmates love the newsletter, but they can opt out of those too, as we know.

I'm at the 44 year marker, and our parents are dropping 4-5 a month, class of almost 700. Obviously we get some things in arrears, and I handle them the same way which I do the others, with different verbiage.

I think my classmates would feel a front page post would be overkill, but that's what I am saying, "Know your people." Check out those links on my page. They are not locked down, as the info is public record.


Friday, February 20, 2015 at 5:23 AM - Response #7

I notify Classmates by Email of the death of any member as well as those who I learn have passed but who never actually registered for the website. This can sometimes mean people who died many years earlier but whose death I have only just learned of.

I tailor the tone of the Email to the individual who has passed. Someone who died 20 years ago is less likely to be warmly remembered than someone who was a website member until their death. If I knew the deceased personally it's easier to reflect on their passing. Otherwise, prefacing every notification with the words 'sad news has just reached me....' covers the possibility of someone on the website having known the deceased well. There's no easy way of notifying someone of a death and an Email may seem impersonal but it reaches a wide audience and without it Classmates may never be aware that an old school friend is no longer with us even if it may be a shock to some of them. In the same Email I tell everyone that I'll prepare an In Memoriam page entry for the deceased (even if I knew little about them) so they should use the Notify Me page to register to be informed when the entry is completed to enable them to add their own thoughts.

I use my subscription to Findmypast to learn details of a person's birth etc to add to the In Memoriam entry but only use them if I'm absolutely sure I've got the right person.

Friday, February 20, 2015 at 10:44 AM - Response #8

I created a "Class News" Page for the purpose of all announcements. Births, deaths, illness, birthdays, etc.
I update the link with the latest date of news, and an automatic email goes out whenever I do the update. Our class has many people who are not subscribed as some don't even have a computer or tablet.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at 10:46 AM - Response #9

Thank you everyone! ALL good advice!

I have to apologize for posting this thread here in the "Event Planning" Topic - hope that CC can move it to "General" or something more appropriate.

Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 2:53 AM - Response #10

For classmates who pass, we email the class. We also publish a notice of the passing on our Latest News page. If the passing is not recent, we say, "We have just learned that so and so passed away on..."

We also use our Latest News page to post notes of sympathy to classmates on the passing of their parents or siblings. In addition, we post a notice of the passing of our teachers and staff on this page.

We have separate In Memory pages for classmates, teachers, and staff. On the In Memory entries, we hand-type the obituary. This allows the obituary to be viewed in perpetuity. Some classes just put a link to the obituary, which is okay for about a year. Then the obituary becomes archived, forcing a reader to pay a fee to see it.

Edited 02/26/15 2:53 AM
Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 7:59 AM - Response #11

Karen, I will move this topic to GENERAL. Everyone else, look for it there.

Scott, posting the text of the obituary on the IN MEMORY page for the classmate is a good idea, but there is no reason to "hand-type" the obituaries. I hope you are using copy/paste to save yourself a little work. Just select all of the text of the obituary, press CTRL-C to copy it (on a PC), create/edit your classmate's IN MEMORY page and in the editor where you want to paste it, press CTRL-V to paste the text. You can also copy the photos to your File Vault by right-clicking on the photo and choosing SAVE TO DISK, then in the editor, use the IMAGE icon to browse your local hard drive and upload it. But you probably already knew all of this.

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