The study, which is in the current issue of the Omega-Journal of Death and Dying, looked at obituary photos published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. It found that the number ofÂ images depicting the dearly departed at a much younger age than when he or she actually died more than doubled between 1967 and 1997. Women were shown at to be at least 15 years younger twice as often as men were. This, said the report,
“suggests that Americans may have become more biased toward youthful appearance, particularly for women.”
I like to taunt my husband, who hates to talk about what will happen when either of us dies, that I want to be cremated because at least I’ll finally get to weigh very little in death. But OMG IT’S A JOKE!
I suppose you can’t blame the dead person for her own obituary picture, unless her deathbed wish was, “Please publish that shot, you know, the one I really like of me in the red dress I wore to Jacob’s bar mitzvah after I’d had that bacterial infection and lost all that weight?” I’m sure there are a handful of people like this, but I’d like to think most folks who know they’re dying are spending their last breaths telling their loved ones how much they mean to them.
No, it’s probably those loved ones choosing the pictures, and of course they’re trying to pick the ones that show the person in her best light. But that person in the snapshot was not the one who died so much as her Formerly, someone who she probably left behind a long time ago, for better or worse, almost certainly for both.
I’d like to think that by the time I die (knock formica that will be many decades from now) I will no longer want people to mourn my Formerly, so much as whoever I am then. Then again, who knows? Ask me on my deathbed. Knock formica we’ll be onto another topic by then.