It's vexing, really, how every obituary begins with Gladys Louise Smith* passed away/died/met her Savior/fell into eternal rest. Isn't the very purpose of an obituary to announce a death? To open a death announcement restating the fact is pretty obviously redundant.
But that's not the worst of it.
Oh no. Then one has to read through the entire obituary searching for the little clues that might reveal what one really wants to know when reading the obituary in the first place.
When someone has a baby the first question is: Was it a boy or a girl? (Birth announcments are perfectly clear on relaying good information.)
What's the first question on your mind when someone dies?
That's right, we all want to know how they died. That's the real story, isn't it? It's the information that guides our condolences, prods our compassion, helps us navigate our emotions about the person's death. But obituaries are frustratingly vague on this point. I've read all the way through to the end of them to read "The Fawcett family would like to thank Dr. Olson and the staff at Merryfield Hospice." A cross-reference in the yellow pages tells me that Dr. Olson is an oncologist so then finally do I have the information I'm looking for. It simply should NOT be that hard.
Would it kill people** to write clear, informative obituaries? Green Girl in Wisconsin had a brain aneurysm February 25. Abraham Lincoln was shot in the head on April 14. Upfront, easy to understand, and quite appropriately informative. It's Journalism 101, really. Who, what, when, where and HOW. The foundation of every well-constructed and thorough piece of news. Obituaries should read no differently--which makes me wonder how they ended up so sloppy these days. Go here to read some examples of how obituary writers kicked it Old School back in 1893.
* Bonus points if you know who this famous dead person is popularly known as.
** Well, if it would, then I imagine we'd have even more obituaries to write. Jack B. Nimble died of stress trying to write an obituary for his deceased mother.