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Letter: Obituary policy is an affront

A recent policy change for obituary printing initiated by the West Central Tribune has changed me from reader to writer. Charging grieving families $10 for a photo of their loved one and 35 cents per word in an obituary is an affront on the history of this community.

I realize economic times are hard, but I am sure there are other avenues of revenue to explore or areas to trim. Obituaries belong to the community. They are significant for family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers. Obituaries provide comfort for the grieving. They may provide new insights about the deceased to friends and neighbors.

And most assuredly future generations of readers will scour the obituary pages to gain valuable information about their long-lost relatives. For many of those future generations the photo in the obituary may be the first and last photo they ever see of the loved one and the life story will provide them with invaluable information. In short, obituaries shed light on the past.

These cherished final words are not only for the wealthy or those willing to pay. Every member of the community deserves to have their life story in print next to a photo so the entire community can share in their loss and rejoice in their life.

Not every family will provide the payment, even if it is considered "nominal." Many deceased will have no relatives in the area to provide the payment. No payment will result in a loss of history for our community. An obituary is more than a death notice with a service reminder accompanied by a list of survivors. It is a rich account of a member of our community; it is a part of our history that should not be lost. I have enclosed a check for $10 for the next member of the community that passes on without the payment being made so I can see his/her face, grieve with their family, and provide a valuable piece of history for future generations.

Shawn Mueske