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The Season of Obits

Patricia Sullivan

When do people die? It sounds like a Buddhist koan or a bad vaudeville joke but for obit writers, the answer is clear; around the winter holidays and as the cold season comes to a close.

It's that time of year (and has been for about a month) in Washington as we struggle to keep up with the stories flooding into our desk. We've had a ballplayer, an ironman scientist , a shipbuilder, a physicist and many more in recent days; here's the last month's worth of Post obits. We have at least 35 more waiting for us to look into, and of course, everyday brings more candidates for obits.

As to why so many die at this time of year, your guess ... as good as ours. We've had a spate of 90-year-olds who have died of pneumonia so it could be that the cold February weather simply overwhelmed their frail health. But they are not the majority. It's a little easier to guess why so many people die around the Christmas and New Years holidays -- people with chronic or serious diseases often want to hang on through the festivities -- and then they give up.

But we really don't know and all we have here are years of anecdotal observations. Your thoughts are welcome.

By Patricia Sullivan  |  March 18, 2008; 11:13 AM ET
Categories:  Patricia Sullivan  
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To: Patricia
At 85, I like to remain aware of the passing of friends, particularly those who graduated from the same High School, McKinley Tech at 2nd & T Sts. NE in Washimgton, D.C. Our alumni association, Golden Techites, holds annual reunions of all alumna who have been graduated at least 50 years. In their publications, they list names of graduates who, to their knowledge, have passed on and not been previously reported. As I have been forwarding information to the secretary, based largely on your obits and the death notices, I notice needed references seem to be becoming more scanty or less inclusive. You have helped us and I, for one, stand ready to help you. My phone is 301-277-7873 . You do good work and we all hope it continues.

Posted by: George Anderson | March 19, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

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