Not all parents leave behind a loving memory for their children. Sometimes, the wrong runs so deep that it remains even after the parents pass away. In 2018, an obituary became the prime example of such an event.
As it stands, obituaries are usually solemn matters. They can be matter-of-fact, decorative, and/or emotive. However, they are rarely critical of the person they are written for. Kathleen Dehmlow’s kids had other intentions. Some would say they were justified as well.
On March 30th, 2018, Minnesota resident 80-year-old Kathleen Dehmlow. Her kids, Gina and Jay Dehmalo, wrote an obituary for her. The obituary was so unusual that only one newspaper – The Redwood Falls Gazette agreed to publish it.
An Obituary With A Harsh Twist
The obituary resulted in an immense amount of furor and backlash the world over as it spread like wildfire on the internet. According to a description in the Washington Post, the obituary had a perfectly normal beginning. It included a brief introduction of Kathleen, including her birthday, place of birth, and her parents’ name.
After that, the obituary began to take a harsher turn. It mentioned how Kathleen conceived from the brother of her husband and moved to California with him. In the process, she abandoned Gina and Jay. Kathleen’s parents raised the two children.
Finally, the harshest part of the obituary appears:
“She…will now face judgment. She will not be missed by Gina and Jay, and they understand that this world is a better place without her.”
Needless to say, this extraordinarily negative picture in an obituary is enough reason for the piece of writing to go viral. Daily Mail conducted an exclusive interview of the siblings where they gave further details behind their decision. At the time, Jay was 58 and her sister was 60 years old.
The Abuse Behind The Obituary
Gina was the first one to hear of Kathleen’s death. As such, she came up with the idea to get their final word out. Dehmalo recalls their dysfunctional and traumatic childhood as both of their parents were unfit parents. Their maternal grandparents saved them. Even at their place, they did not have a smooth time growing up. However, Dehmalo says that there was a lot of love at least.
On the other hand, their mother’s abandonment was extremely complete and hurtful. Once, when Kathleen did come back to Minnesota from California, she had not even acknowledged the siblings’ presence. Instead, she carried on drinking and partying with her other two children born with Lyle, her husband’s brother.
Dehmalo also recalls that the siblings did not have a good relationship with their other relatives. There were always signs of spite and petty jealousy. Matters became worse when their grandparents left them behind an inheritance worth a few thousand
The siblings had little knowledge of how their mother was faring after she had run away originally. They only got to hear bits and pieces of it and glean the story from them. The siblings got to know of the existence of their half-brothers a long time after their birth.
The Backlash Came Quick And Fast
The obituary received so much backlash that the Redwood Falls Gazette removed it from its website within a short time. Legacy.com also removed it.
Kathleen’s sister Judy called it “nasty” and that it “hurt the family tremendously.” She asked why people wanted to talk about it because it was not important. Jay and Gina think otherwise. They know the others have hardly any idea of what the siblings had to go through.
On the other hand, Jay received calls from their buddies who said that they had no idea that Kathleen had abandoned them. They had assumed she had passed away in an accident.
Today Jay is a former boxer and an army veteran. Gina is married, lives in Florida, and has a cleaning job. Their lives have not been the smoothest. However, neither of them regrets publishing the truth. In fact, they said they would gladly do it again.
As harsh as this story sounds, perhaps Jay and Gina owe this much as they finally reached a resolution regarding a tragic memory. Every action will have a consequence, and some wrongs do not deserve forgiveness.
- “Her obituary started like most others do, with her birth date, city of birth, and the names of her parents. But that’s where the standard sentiment ended:.” Daily Mail. Laurin Collins & Daniel Bates. June 6, 2018.
- “This world is a better place without her’: A family’s savage final send-off to their mother” Washington Post. June 5, 2016.