I saw something today that made me sad.
At first I thought it must be a hoax– I just saw it in a photo on Twitter and thought it might be photoshopped. But it’s apparently real.
A woman by the name of Kathleen Dehmlo, nee Schunk, passed away on May 31, and her family published an obituary in the local paper which ended with these two paragraphs:
“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.”
Now, I don’t know these people from Adam. I don’t know what their childhood was like, living with their grandparents like that. I don’t know if Ms. Dehmlow had been abused herself or if she had some kind of mental struggle that affected her judgement. I do not judge the children for being so hurt by their mother’s abandonment, and for not being able to come up with the customary nice things to say in an obituary. Having a parent who cannot parent, for whatever reason, is a horrendous cross to have to bear; it can traumatize a person in ways words fail me to describe. To not have any tenderness for a woman who never showed any tenderness to you is a perfectly understandable thing– even if she is, biologically, your mother.
I’m not going to say I think people should speak like this in an obituary. I think they should have just not published one if they couldn’t say anything nice. But I’m not going to say what I would have done, had I been a member of somebody else’s family. Family is a sacred thing but it’s also the most painful thing there is– because families are made out of people, and that’s what people are like. No one can break you like your own family can.
I just have a request. Will my fellow Catholics join me in praying for everyone involved?
If Mrs. Dehmlow is as bad as the obituary makes it sound, that’s quite a thing to carry with you into the next life. We ought to pray for her, see if we can get a Mass offered for the repose of her soul. And we ought to pray for healing for her surviving relatives, without judgement. It seems like they’re in a great deal of pain.
May God grant her eternal memory.
(image via Pixabay)