"Pending Obituaries"

So at the Journal and Courier online (thanks for the recent feature as blog of the week!), they run a daily story about “pending obituaries”. For examples, just do a quick search.

I, for one, find this practice very amusing. It is particularly amusing when it shows up in the optimized page for hand-held devices as “breaking news.” I mean, judging on the title alone, it seems like this should refer to people who are about to die, but who haven’t yet. Something like “John Doe, who was hit by a truck this morning, is in critical condition at the hospital. He is expected to pass within the hour.” Instead, it seems to be brief announcements of the completion of life, but without the full details. (These articles inevitably contain a sentence at the end referring the reader to the next day’s edition of the J&C.)

In the future, may I suggest (to no-one in particular, since I’m not making a point of sending this to the paper) that we find a more appropriate name for these articles? Though I have to say obituaries in progress or partial obituaries aren’t any better. Maybe we should change the word obituary, since it tends to suggest that it should have full details. Perhaps we could call them death notices instead? Then refer readers to the full obituary in the print edition. Or, maybe just leave it as it is. Maybe we need a sense of humor about the passing of our lives.