My brother just sent me an e-mail to say Arthur C. Clarke died. I have a paperback copy of 2001 signed by him, but I never met him. When we lived in Sri Lanka over 25 years ago, I knew people who knew him.
The odd thing on clicking through to the WaPo obit that my brother sent, I noticed that the obituary writers now have their own blog Post Mortem. In the comments on "About this Blog" someone asked why we needed a blog about obituaries and death, saying it was "offensive and in such poor taste." Yikes!
I remember when two of my friends were going through med school, and both of them in separate conversations remarked upon the fact that a date with my then boyfriend had included a trip to Crown Hill Cemetery to see where John Dillinger was buried. "Does he suffer from depression?" they asked. Apparently the medical books consider an obsession with cemeteries a negative thing. Whereas all my history friends saw nothing odd about it! In fact, one of my internship supervisors collected Victorian mourning artifacts and would dress up as a Civil War widow for Crown Hill events.
There was recently an article in the Journal-Sentinel about photographers who donate their time to photograph stillborn or recently deceased babies for the parents and the comfort that gives. Some people find Victorian post-mortem photographs creepy without thinking about the reason these photos were taken - fixing the image of a loved one who may never have been photographed in life. We are so overloaded with visual images today that we forget how precious they once were.