There seems to be a raging discussion in the Dear Abby column today as to the use of obituary photos in newspapers and whether a photo should be "current" or show the deceased in the prime of their life.
For years, I was of the belief that the photo should be current but now that I've been exposed to more and more family photographs and reading blogs such as Shades Of the Departed, I am in agreement with most people: photos from the deceased's "prime of life" time are much better.
When newspapers first started running photos in obituaries (and it is a money-maker since it increases the cost of the announcement), I thought it was misleading to see a photo of an 84 year old woman that looked as if she were 34. Thinking that Cher had nothing on this woman, I would usually have to reread the obituary to make sure the age at time of death wasn't 48 instead of 84.
And putting aside valid reasons such as there not being any current photos of the deceased available, as I grow older I can see the wisdom of using a photo from the earlier years of the departed. In my mind, I often see myself as 25 or 30 and not my current mid-40s age. And as the aging process progresses, I'm sure I will keep this perspective.
An obituary for many is not just an announcement of one's passing. It is a short summary of one's life - achievements, successes, losses, battles - and should sum up the "essence" of that person.
Look at the poll in the upper right about this topic and cast your vote. And - if you could select one photo that depicted your "essence," which photo would that be?