A Mean-Spirited Obituary — Or A Cathartic Moment?

My mother always taught us that if you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.  That notion should apply, especially, to obituaries.

So what does it tell you when an obituary written about a woman by one of her 8 children pointedly says that she died “alone,” that she spent her lifetime “torturing” them “in every way possible,” and that her children “celebrate her passing from this earth and hope she lives in the afterlife reliving each gesture of violence, cruelty, and shame that she delivered on her children”?  The obituary, of a woman named Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick, appeared in the Reno Gazette Journal and is an amazing document.  Among other things, it says:  “Everyone she met, adult or child was tortured by her cruelty and exposure to violence, criminal activity, vulgarity, and hatred of the gentle or kind human spirit.”

There’s obviously a back story here, and the Reno paper apparently pulled the obituary after it was first published and is doing an investigation.  In the meantime, the original obit has gone viral, and other news outlets are reporting on the history of this woman and her children — which apparently includes foster homes, a case decided by the Nevada Supreme Court, and legislation that allows children to terminate parental rights.

I’m sure there is a lot more to this story of apparent human misery.  One line in the obituary reads:  “Her surviving children will now live the rest of their lives with the peace of knowing their nightmare finally has some form of closure.”  I find myself wondering what terrible things must have happened to cause a child to write such words about her own mother.