We've all heard that you should be good to your children; they get to pick your nursing home. But they also write your obituary, too. An obituary is a very personal and very public tribute to someone who, usually anyway, is beloved, missed and often revered. Seeing this in print may shock some, others find it strangely amusing, but does it cross an ethical line?

Redwood Falls Gazette via Twitter
Redwood Falls Gazette via Twitter

According to a story from the New York Daily News, 80-year-old Kathleen Dehmlow passed away on March 18, 2018. Born in 1938, she married Dennis Dehmlow in 1958 and they had two children, Gina and Jay. But five years later, according to the obituary believed to have been published by one of the children, she got pregnant by her husbands brother, Lyle, and abandoned Gina and Jay. The obit was removed by the Redwood Falls Gazette, and a relative reportedly told the Star Tribune “The sad thing about this is there is no rebuttal. There is more to it than this. It’s not simple. She made a mistake 60 years ago, but who hasn’t? Has she regretted it over the years? Yes.”

Mark Anfinson, attorney for the Minnesota Newspaper Association is quoted by the Star Tribune: “This kind of trashing of a decedent doesn’t happen very often, but there is nothing illegal about what was published." Yes, it's rare that families take out there long pent-up frustrations on their late family members this way, but in today's world of almost-anything-goes-online media, it's hardly shocking. Today, people readily shout what we used to barely whisper.


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