Elyse over at Elyse’s Genealogy Blog wrote about seeing her Mother’s Social Security Index entry yesterday on her blog. She wrote about the emotions this brought forth and asked if others have experience mixed feelings when viewing a document.
I was thinking back on some documents that have given me mixed feelings such as when I find a female who died in childbirth, a child who died very young, or a young man who died in war. All of them make me feel a certain sadness because of the sense of a life lost too soon.
But, I think the document that has caused me the most mix of emotions was my Dad’s obituary. He died last May. I have the obituary from my newspaper as well as copies people sent me.
It might surprise you that I experience mixed emotions viewing his obituary. After all, I wrote it. I even helped select the photograph that was displayed along with it. But, writing down the words and then seeing them in print in the newspaper are two entirely different things.
Obviously, I knew my Dad was dead. But, seeing his life story summed up in the column of a newspaper caused a gulp in my throat. There are many stages that punctuate finality when going through grief and this was one of them. At the same time, it felt surreal. I had a certain odd distance from the name on at the top of the obituary and the person it represented–as if the words were for someone else entirely, someone else’s loved one. After seeing so many obituaries over the course of my genealogy adventures, it was peculiar to hold in my hands one for someone I knew and loved so well.
Until Elyse’s post, it never dawned on me to look for my Dad’s SSDI entry. My curiousity was piqued so I had to take a look. There was no new information or surprises in my Dad’s entry. That’s a relief! Wouldn’t want any skeleton’s crawling out of the closet, now would we?