General Question

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Is it common practice to notify people by e-mail of a loved one's death?

Asked by lucillelucillelucille (27545points) October 8th, 2010

I just opened an e-mail sent by a friend whose dad recently died.
I could not access this account until today and missed the funeral.
Do you think e-mail is a proper way to notify people of this kind of thing?

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44 Answers

faye's avatar

I think someone should help the family by phoning people. Email is too impersonal.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I’ve never received one yet and unless it was from a long lost friend or friend of a friend then I’d be a little irked because people checking their emails consistently is a longshot compared to leaving a voicemail, text message or making voice to voice contact. I hope it won’t become a common practice ever.

wundayatta's avatar

Death announcements, letters, phone, email—no method is going to reach everyone. And in a way, they all have to be impersonal. It’s not the job of the bereaved to make sure everyone is reached. They have enough on their plates.

Drewseph's avatar

I think email is fine if you don’t want them to come to the funeral, but if you do, then telephone would be the best option, and the best overall.

Trillian's avatar

I thought that the person may not have had someone to help her with the details. Or maybe she sent them out without stamps. Anything could have happened, and at a time like that it would be difficult to focus, I would think.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

This was a mass e-mailing and I wonder if anyone showed.I do know how busy it can be at times like that.

Vunessuh's avatar

If this person had a lot of people to inform, she probably only chose to inform by phone the one’s closest to her and her father. She would have most likely been way too overwhelmed to call everybody, but she obviously knew it was decent to reach out to everyone else in some way. Yeah, maybe a mailed letter would have been better, but email was probably much more convenient for her at that time.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

This is the question though,Is it common pratice to notify by e-mail of a loved one’s death.Would YOU do it that way?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

If it was a “loved one” that strikes me as extremely crass. It’s not a fun job but if you were close to the person that passed a personal touch is definately called for. They should have help from others around them, but no, I don’t want to learn of someone’s death from a mass email.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe -I agree.I wouldn’t handle it that way either.

Vunessuh's avatar

I’m not sure how common it is, but I’m sure that the people who have done it that way before, have had one if not multiple valid reasons for doing so, no matter how cold and impersonal it seems. This is death. This isn’t notifying someone that they’ve won a million bucks. Everyone handles it differently to help them get through it.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@Vunessuh-Of course,but would YOU do it that way? by the way,when I drop dead,I want you to yell out your kitchen window that I assumed room temperature. XD

NaturallyMe's avatar

I suppose if it’s really distant family or friends, where you’re not invited or can’t make the funeral anyway, then i’d say it’s ok.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

If it’s a casual acquaintance or maybe on old schoolmate, maybe it’s okay. I’ve been through enough of them that I want the personal touch. Maybe I’m just old school.

Vunessuh's avatar

If I have hundreds of people to call because my dad dies, the last thing I’m going to do is make 100 or even 50 phone calls and repeat the same words over and over again that my father just died and then proceed to hear the “awwwws” and “I’m sorry’s” and “are you okay?” and so on and so forth which in turn will probably make me cry every time I get on the phone. That can screw with you psychologically even more. I wouldn’t email, but I would mail a letter to anyone I didn’t call and it would be the same generic letter typed up to everyone. They’ll get over it.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Vunessuh That’s a larger group than I was thinking. I was thinking of my loved ones as being between 20 or 30. For one person making 50 to 100 phone calls would be way too much.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@Vunessuh-If you mail a letter,the funeral could be over by the time they get it.Phone calls?Could it have not been relayed by others who have been told.That is where friends come in to help.I am not asking for excuses,I am asking if an email is proper protocol

Aster's avatar

Bad taste. I’m surprised they don’t have a “guess who died?” mass emailing available.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@Aster-That is exactly what I thought ;)

Vunessuh's avatar

Maybe she did ask for her friend’s help, but wanted to be sure so she sent out a mass email. Maybe she used a number of tools to be sure she could notify as many people as possible.
No, I don’t personally believe email is the best way to reach out to people, but there are a number of valid reasons for why she chose to do it that way. She may have called a number of people, sent out a letter to distant relatives, asked her friends to notify even more people and then sent out a mass email just in case. Who knows!

Her dad just died. Relax.
I’m text messaging you when my dad dies. XD

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

This past summer, a dear friend of mine in our community theater group died quite unexpectedly. It was my responsibility to arrange the location for the memorial service and to notify the community. I had a lot on my plate.

I waited until the arrangements were finalized and then I sent a sincere mailing to all the members of our Facebook group, to everyone concerned with the group in my personal email account, to a another local theater group who then did the same steps as I did, and to a lady who keeps a large email list of theater people in our town.

It was the most efficient way to get the news out as quickly as possible to as large an audience as we could.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@Vunessuh-Instead phone calls to you,I will send you smoke signals from my kitchen.If that doesn’t work, I will beat out a message to you in Morse code on the railroad tracks.Keep your ear to the ground ,V XD

Vunessuh's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille You know what, I’ll fly a mini-plane over your house with a banner.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@Vunnessuh-Now that,I could live with! :))

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I’d do it if I didn’t have people’s numbers.

Cupcake's avatar

Even if I did have everyone’s phone number, I would still send out a mass email. It would be too exhausting to call everyone myself… and I hate the telephone. I would call my mom, though.

lillycoyote's avatar

I sent out some email notices after my mother died and after my father died. They were to friends and collegues of theirs, people I didn’t really know and had no other way to contact. There’s a lot to do when someone dies, funeral arrangements to make, friends and family to contact, you to have notify banks, credit card companies, insurance companies, pension funds, the VA maybe; legal documents have to be revised or obtained, forms need to be filled out and returned, the list seems almost endless and you’re not really in much of a mood to do it to begin with. I’m sure my father and I did things when my mother died that some people might have thought were not “proper etiquette” and things that I did after my father died that might not have been considered “proper.” When you’re grieving you do the best you can if that’s not good enough for some people fuck ‘em.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@lillycoyote -Hmm.To each their own.
When my father died last fall,and my mother 12 years before, we each called the people we had to call and enlisted their help in making a few calls to help,no e-mails or texts or anything even close to it,and yes,we took care of all the arrangements.I don’t agree with e-mailing anyone with that kind of news.What did people do before the computer age??

Cupcake's avatar

I think it’s totally fine for people to decide to call every contact about a death. It’s quite courteous, actually. What I don’t find OK is people being judgemental about how others choose to handle the situation. There is nothing inherently wrong about deciding to contact others electronically. Perhaps they are stressed, or tired, or overwhelmed, or hate talking on the phone, or wanted to get the word out to as many people as possible as soon as possible… the possibilities are endless. Why judge? The death of a loved one is one of the most stressful life situations. I would choose to put my energy into being helpful, loving and supportive and not into judging.

lillycoyote's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille Well, before the computer age I might not have had anyway to contact the people I contacted by email and they wouldn’t have known, at least not in a timely manner. They were people that my parents had talked enough about and were important enough that I though they should and would want to know. They all responded graciously and thanked me for letting them know. People deal with grief differently and some are better at “soldiering on” than others. What you and your family was able to do may have been more than another person or family could manage. I’m just not going to judge people under these circumstances. I don’t think any of us should. As I said, people who are grieving do the best they can and if their best is not good enough for some people that’s the way it goes, I guess.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@lilycoyote-I wasn’t asking for excuses,ifs or maybes.I am asking if this is considered proper protocol now a days when someone dies. I just pointed out how this is accomplished in the past without missing anyone while experiencing those excuses if and maybes for myself ;)

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@Cupcake-This is a person’s death I am talking about, not some birthday party for a 2 year old!Of course I am being judgemental.When it is something as important as death,one must employ the proper protocols.After all,you only die once.If people just thought of death as a toddler’s birthday party,I suppose we could just send out e-mails in the hope they will open it in a timely fashion and maybe show up.How can anyone be helpful and supportive when they don’t receive the message at the right time because it was sent by e-mail????
It goes with out saying that everyone grieves differently.That is why we use protocol * for such events.To rely on mere e-mail to convey a message as important as someone’s death is in my *judgement disrespectful to the dead.

lillycoyote's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille I suspect that in the past many people very well may have been missed.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@lillycoyote -Using the proper protocol,as I just explained,no one was missed.Why do you insist on dealing in “ifs ands and maybes”? Can’t I get a straight answer?

lillycoyote's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille I’m sorry to have wasted your time. Straight answer ahead. Your question was, indeed, “Is it common practice to notify people by e-mail of a loved one’s death?” My answer to the question you actually asked is: I don’t know. I should have said that in the first place or not have answered the question at all.

Cupcake's avatar

It is common for me to receive information about deaths by email. I would prefer to hear about such things electronically. I would pass on death information electronically.

If my parent/grandparent/aunt/uncle died, I would likely hear about it by phone (only because my parent – if living – would call me). If it’s a friend of a friend or family member of a friend, I would likely read about it on facebook. If a member of my religious community died, I’d hear about it by email.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@lilycoyote-Thanks.I appreciate it and will still send you a birthday present…by snail mail.That way I know it will get there! XD ;)

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@Cupcake-Thanks for answering ;)

BratLady's avatar

Sounds too cold to me.

Cupcake's avatar

Sure thing. I would guess the reasons for preferring electronic communication (in my case) would relate to my age and having grown up with internet and electronics (I’m 30) and being introverted (which makes me appreciate the space to privately deal with my feelings about the death and formulate my condolances to the living).

faye's avatar

I phoned my cousin and one friend when my mother died. They phoned people who phoned people. The obituary was in the paper as well. This was not work for me. I couldn’t have said the words over and over either.

lillycoyote's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille You’re so sweet! Just a heads up: when I get a birthday package through the mail I really enjoy opening it up and finding it packed with a reasonable, but not excessive, number and variety of smaller gifts, individually wrapped, rather than one single expensive gift, like an iPad for example. Opening all the little presents is just more fun for me. Not that an iPad would be the worst present in the world. I would be polite and gracious about it either way and I can assure you that in either case, you would receive a proper, hand-written thank you note from me. :-)

Mikewlf337's avatar

Depends on how much there is to say and how emotionally distrout the sender is. For immediate and extended family members I would say it would be too impersonal. Same goes for close friends. For everyone else and email is ok. Just my opinion though.

barksato's avatar

My father, who had terminal cancer, passed away and even though it was somewhat expected, we still were not prepared. It was important for my family to verbally notify as many people as possible, but as most know that task is daunting. Passingword.com was the perfect mix. It created a personalized email that we sent to whoever we wanted. It contained the obituary and service details. We still called our close friends and family, but passingword made those calls easier and allowed us to reach past that group to a larger network.

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