That’s the lesson that everyone is learning from a notice published in a small-town US newpaper. Kathleen Dehmlow died last Thursday in Springfield, Minnesota. On Monday, her obituary ran in the Redwood Falls Gazette.
It began with all the normal details – born Kathleen Schunk in 1938, married Dennis Dehmlow in 1957, had two children, Gina and Jay. Then it went on:
“In 1962 she became pregnant by her husband’s brother Lyle Dehmlow and moved to California. She abandoned her children, Gina and Jay, who were then raised by her parents in Clements, Mr and Mrs Joseph Schunk.
“She passed away on May 31, 2018 in Springfield and will now face judgement. She will not be missed by Gina and Jay, and they understand that this world is a better place without her.”
A relative has spoken up in Dehmlow’s defence. Dwight Dehmlow, who didn’t want to specify his relationship to the deceased, said the facts in the obituary were true, but there was “a lot of stuff that is missing”.
“The sad thing about this is there is no rebuttal,” the Star Tribune quotes him as saying.
“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.”
The obituary quickly went viral on social media.
Paragraph 1: ok
Paragraph 2: ok
Paragraph 3: wait
Paragraph 4: OH
Paragraph 5: *airplane flies overhead with a banner reading WELCOME TO HELL MOM* pic.twitter.com/ppV45htrda
— Stu (@RandBallsStu) June 5, 2018
On Tuesday, the newspaper removed the online version from its website. Before that, comments were generally kind to Dehmlow.
“The good Lord loves you more than anyone else ever could,” wrote one person, according to USA Today. “You are in Heaven now with your Saviour. R.I.P.”
Mark Anfinson, lawyer for the Minnesota Newspaper Association, told the Star Tribune that this kind of “trashing” doesn’t happen very often, but it’s not illegal.
However, Steve Yaeger, chief marketing officer for the Star Tribune, said they would have never run that obit.
“And yes, obituaries are sometimes rejected or sent back to the family or funeral home for changes,” he added.
Gina and Jay have made their point. They’ve got their revenge. Everybody knows they have been hurt, that their mum had an affair and left them. But ultimately, do they come out of this looking good?