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Shouldn't I have been included in the obituary of my ex-husband?

19 answers | Last updated: Oct 24, 2014
mominfla asked...
My ex-husband died unexpectly. The obituary that was written does not mention me at all as a survivor. We have two children. One is deceased. We both never re-married. What is the proper etiquette and also how do I tell my son that I feel left out. We were all going to get together with my son for Xmas (including his girlfriend)

Caring.com User - Rebekah Peoples
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Rebekah Peoples, CFSP, CPC, Is a licensed funeral director and embalmer. She is passionate about serving others and believes that giving clients honest, accurate...
55% helpful

Please accept my condolences. Just because your relationship was as an ex-spouse, it doesn't change that you grieve and feel a sense of loss. That is probably exactly why you See also:
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feel left out to have not been mentioned in the obituary.

Many times the obituary is written with the guidance of the funeral director and this may have been what happened when your son was at the funeral home to make the arrangements. It is uncommon to include an ex-spouse in an obituary, which is what may have been the thought of the funeral director. That doesn't mean it should have been the case here but maybe your son simply followed his/her suggestions, so maybe you can give him the benefit of the doubt.

If you feel you need to share your feelings with your son, you may try saying something like, "I know funeral directors usually help people write obituaries and they usually don't mention former spouses, but I felt kind of left out by not being mentioned. I know you understand." Smile and leave it at that to avoid making him feel badly about something that can't be undone. You're very fortunate; it sounds like you had not only a good relationship with your ex-husband, but a continuing one with your son.


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50% helpful
cjmarley answered...

My ex-husband recently died unexpectedly too and I grieved over that loss especially having lost my my recent husband just a year ago as well. But I don't think it's appropriate to include an ex-wife in the obituary. The obituary mentions surviving family members which since you are divorced you are not. Had you only been separated that would be a different story. Being divorced means you are no longer a part of his family. Now if they had listed other surviving friends then yes...you should be included because you are now a friend, not family.


20% helpful
Pooh26 answered...

I also had a difficult situation regarding the obituary of my mother who passed 4 months ago. My mother and I had written most of the obituary ahead of time which I was thankful we had because a sister-in-law got mad at me because I had not included her in the obituary. It is unfortunate to have these difficulties during the loss of loved ones.


40% helpful
An anonymous caregiver answered...

Much love and condolences for you and your family. Death of a loved one and the planning of a funeral is one of the most difficult things in the world to have to do. Pre-Planning is the answer to many of the things which will come up when you are Grieving so hard. Your mind is far from clear at this time. This is a time for all the family to nit pic as well. (something the main person handling the funeral does not need, however, do expect it.) One way to ease some of this is to have the immediate family look over the obituary BEFORE it is finalized and given to the Funeral Home to print. That way if something is forgotten, it can be added before print. Nobody can remember everything. The best writers in the world have experienced proof readers who get paid dearly. Have each Head of Household in your family get a copy of Prepare to Care, A Planning Guide to Families from AARP Foundation. It's an outstanding publication. Many funeral homes have a form for writing obituaries. One must do their homework way in advance before the assignment comes. (Obituaries are changing yearly, as families and the world change; don't be too hard on yourself, you're only human. Just observing someone who had lost their Mother is ....painful.)To do things correct is the best way to do them. However,Your sister-in-law is correct is stating she should have been included in the obituary. Her first name should have appeared after your brother's first name, example John (Jane), .....If for some reason all sister-in-laws were left off the obituary (often space is a factor)then, it was okay.My cousin's own a funeral home, I have seen so many variations of obituaries because families write what they want and use the style they know, and, it's okay. The most helpful website that I have ever seen which not only answers but gives examples of anything centered around a Death/Dying/Funeral Planning is Funeralwise.com. God Bless! You did good and your Mother is Proud! That's what matters.


25% helpful
coainhome answered...

My dad passed away almost two years ago and My parents were divorced, but my dad had remarried. I was informed by My Mother that her name "had better appear in the obituary" or else. Needless to say, my intention from the get-go was to include her name in the obituary but it was not totally up to me and if my step-mother did not want her name in the obituary, I could understand and would not fight her on it. My parents had been married for 29 years before they got divorced and my dad had been remarried for 15 years. We put my Mother's name in the obituary at the bottom the surviving family and it was listed as Also surviving was his first wife, etc.

Just a side note to this comment - yes, I had to give my Mother a copy of the obituary for confirmation that I did as I was told.


An anonymous caregiver answered...

The question is why were you divorced, then we would probably help us to answer youre question.


33% helpful
morn64@sbcglobal.net answered...

Even though your ex-husband had not re-married does not mean your name should have been included in the obituary. If either of you had re-married it still wouldn't make any difference. You are no longer a relative and are not included as such ( even though you had a child together ). Some people have several " ex's " and it would be very unusual for all of their names to be included, whether they had children together or not.


43% helpful
KCgramma answered...

The ex wife,(wives) should be included in the obituary since they were a part of their life, especially if they have had children together. Some people may have known the deceased through their partner(s)from when they were married to a different spouse.
For example when my ex-husband had died he was married to his 4th wife and all 3 ex wives were included along with the child(ren) they had together. ..."He leaves behind Brian and JoDean and their Mother JoAnn, Donna and Tracy and their Mother Janet, Fawn and her Mother Cathy....".
If someone had known Brian and wasn't sure if that was his Father that had passed away but knew JoAnn was his Mother they would be able to give their condolences. He kept his present and past families in his life, after all they were still his family through his children. In such, his children never had to feel awkward discussing or inviting their Father along with whichever wife he had at the time to family events/celebrations.

Hopefully we have set an example for others to follow....

Socially and emotionally acceptable in my opinion.


50% helpful
An anonymous caregiver answered...

My brother passed away and his ex-wife was listed first in the obituary as a survivor, even they had been divorced for 20 years and she has remarried. I thought it was totally inappropriate. I don't have a problem with her being mentioned since they did have children together, but she should have been listed AFTER their children, grandchildren, and his siblings.


50% helpful
Silence12 answered...

Although I agree that an ex should be included as a survivor when there are children I do not think it is worth the pain it would cause everyone to mention it to the family when the ex is not included. I too am an ex that was excluded from my mother-in-law's obit. I stayed very close to her through out the years, cleaning her home when she got sick, cleaning her while she was in the hospital, staying with her when her family had left at night the weekend she died. Although it pained me not to be included, it is not why I did those things. I did them because I loved her. I will not dishonor our relationship by causing her family any more pain than they already have in loosing her.


MrsGreen1 answered...

I understand how you feel with this topic... just lost my husband who I was separated from for a few years.. and myself and my children were not including in the family who was left to cherish his memories... I am still legally his wife and I really thought his family feeling like we don't matter concerning our love for him. They don't understand after knowing someone for 19, getting married and having childern.. regardless of our current status we were still the best of friends and how they wrote this obituary really hurt me...


An anonymous caregiver answered...

I agree with kcgramma's answer that an ex-wife should definitely be included in the ex-husband's obituary. I have a dear friend whose ex just died and the obit has excluded her completely. They were married for a number of years and had four children together. As for funeral director's, when my mother died he was going to exclude my dad who had been married to my mother 22 years before divorcing. And sadly, the step-dad and half-sister didn't object BUT I did and loudly! My parents had two children, my brother and myself. He was deceased as was my dad so it was up to me to stand my ground which should not even been necessary. It is only common sense that you should mention the ex-wife, especially if there are children. Where do they think those kids came from, certainly not the 2nd Mrs. Not only is the omission unexcuseable but as a genealogists, that kind of an obit would sure be confusing.


33% helpful
An anonymous caregiver answered...

I say YES. An ex should be mentioned especially if there are children between the two. The details of the relationships have no bering to the issue that they were indeed once married. Even if one or both have remarried it is proper and important to include the ex.

It should be written in this manner: He/She is survived by (current spouse), (children of the deceased and current spouse), (Jane Doe ex wife and mother to children and their spouse), (grandchildren), (mother father if living) (siblings) then mention the number of nieces and nephews followed by many cousins, then friends that loved him dearly.

Many people really on obits when researching family. Having such a traceable record will clearly offer insite to the families relationship and and material/paternal blood line.

Many times the obits is the only record available for one to really on.


An anonymous caregiver answered...

I am recently (one year) divorced from my husband. We never stopped communicateing. I divorced him because of emotional incest (his family came before me and or children) after 25 years. His mother died while he was visiting with me. Less than 1 hour after her death, he informed me he wanted "us" to be together. However, my name was not inclued in his mother's obituary, I was not allowed to sit beside him during the services and just like the 25 years as his wife my feeling were hurt. Although his sister wrote the obituary, he was given the option to make changes. I looked for answers if my name should have been included, and of course none of the answers pertained to my relationship. Therefore, if the ex-wife has an intimate relationship wiith her ex...she is still very much worthy of her name besides his.


100% helpful
classicalmusic answered...

Many persons do not want their ex spouse mentioned in their obituary. I wouldn't want mine mentioned, nor does my husband want his ex wife mentioned, even though there is no bitterness. The reason? The ex is no longer a member of the family. In fact it would seem strange to mention the ex as being someone left behind or a survivor of the deceased. The ex is part of the children's family, but not part of the deceased's. We have both written our own obituaries, and the ex's are not mentioned. And I would be surprised if the ex's even would want their names mentioned. There's a reason for a divorce. And after divorce, the relationship is severed as husband and wife, so, no need to mentioned the ex as a survivor.


Just Annie answered...

Having just been through the loss of my ex-husband whom I was married to for over 23-years I am at a loss, I am amazed at the pain I feel in my heart because of his untimely death. No I did not want to be mentioned as a "survivor" in his obituary, however the mention of my name would have been nice as we have two beautiful sons that we raised --- not his current wife. I am at a loss as to the heartbreak I feel because my ex-husband died suddenly. We had a lot of great times and yes some difficult times as well but ultimately 23 (plus) years are not filled with just horrible memories. This man was at one time my very best friend, he was the father of my two grown boys. They adored their father and now they are hurting as I am. His wife is grieving I know, but can not offer any type of healing for my sons, their wives or their children. After having lost my own parents and a brother I was not prepared to come to realize how devastated I would feel after learning that my ex-husband has passed away. We had the funeral services for my ex-husband and I was there and I proudly prepared and served food for the services. MLR I will truly miss you, I wish that we could have just met and talked one final time. RIP.


100% helpful
Barry8989 answered...

I do not want to have my ex wife included in my obituary, nor would I care to be included in hers. We got divorced for a reason. That part of my life is over and I would prefer to keep it that way.


An anonymous caregiver answered...

When my fiancé died, I was listed in his obituary as his "beloved partner" after his children's and grandchildren's names. This was followed by "survived by his loving former wife" and her name. This was all requested by his children when they made the arrangements. I feel that it showed respect of all, including the acknowledgement of his history with the mother of his children. However, when my fiancé's mother died a year later, his brothers properly listed his name preceded by "the late" but then stupidly followed with his ex-wife's name in parentheses, indicating that they were married when he died! When I asked why they did that, I was told it was because his ex-wife had helped her former mother-in-law when she was dying. Really! That gives one the status of a reborn wife?


An anonymous caregiver answered...

Absolutely not. My husband was married for 20 years to his first wife and he hated her. I made certain that my step children knew their mother was not welcome at the services and they already knew that their father would not have wanted her to attend. She chose to end their marriage -- and I'm glad otherwise he wouldn't have been single and interested in dating me. Just because they were married for 20 years doesn't mean she deserves to be mentioned in his obituary. He didn't love her any more, she clearly didn't love him even when she was married to him. I am his wife and I will be his wife until the day that I die. The fact that he is now gone doesn't mean that I don't still love him and grieve for him and it is I who will one day be buried next to him -- not his ex.


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