I immediately recognized his face. It’s not that I knew him well. I didn’t. In fact, I don’t think that Martin (name changed for obvious reasons) and I had ever had a meaningful conversation. But we had both belonged to an organization and I recognized his face, if not his name, the moment I saw his picture in the newspaper. In the obituaries. Martin died last week. And Martin was about five years younger than me.
I read the obituaries daily. This is part of my job. Should one of my clients die, I will have a chance to get the claim’s process started even before they call. Reading the obits also allows me to react to the deaths of the relatives of my clients. Sometimes that reaction is a handwritten note. Sometimes it is a donation to charity or a Shiva call. Regardless, reading the obits allows me to be a better friend and a better agent. The result of my diligence was learning of Martin’s passing last week.
This post won’t serve to memorialize Martin. Hell, I’m not even revealing his real name and I know that most of my readers never met him. No, I want to share with you what happened, or didn’t happen, after he died.
Remember, I really didn’t know Martin. I didn’t know his company name and only had an educated guess as to what he did. Since Martin had a common name, Google wasn’t necessarily the easiest way to confirm that I had the right guy. So I went to the website of the organization where I thought that I had met him. If I was correct, the website would note the passing of an active member.
Nothing. There was nothing on the organization’s website about Martin’s death. There was a News section right on the Home Page. And as I later learned, Martin’s banner ad was still there, big and bold, helping to fund an organization that couldn’t be bothered to note his passing. I searched the site and found a mention of his name. Martin was a Doer, a guy who had given of his time too. I was able to confirm the name of his business and was shocked at how many times either he or the business appeared on this organization’s website. Shocked because it became apparent that getting money and effort from Martin had been important to the people who ran the organization, but neither the memory of Martin, nor the needs of his family, was worth noting.
Today is Sunday, almost a week since Martin died. Martin’s banner ads are still running on the organization’s website. But there is no mention of Martin’s death. If anything, perhaps we should commend the organization. The leaders of the organization have shown great honesty. They don’t really give a damn about their members and they aren’t going to lie or fake that they do.
I sent a condolence card to Martin’s family. It was my way of showing respect and saying good-bye. And while I’m thinking about good-byes, it may be time to wave good-bye to this and other organizations that want time and money but really don’t care what happens to you. Even when you die.