Obituaries are traditionally a way to commemorate a deceased person's accomplishments and achievements — but not always.
A recently departed Minnesota mother is posthumously facing the wrath of the children she wronged via a local paper's "In Memoriam" section. The shocking, yet morbidly humorous image of the vindictive obit is now going viral.
Kathleen Dehmlow, 80, of Springfield, Minnesota passed away on May 31. Her obituary ran in the Redwood Falls Gazette.
What seems like a rote recitation of the facts of Dehmlow's life quickly pivots to a bitter send off in the fourth paragraph.
"In 1962 she became pregnant by her husband’s brother Lyle Dehmlow and moved to California.
She abandoned her children, Gina and Jay who were then raised by her parents in Clements, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Schunk," reads the obituary. "She [...] will now face judgement. She will not be missed by Gina and Jay, and they understand the world is a better place without her."
Some on social media protested the publication of the disrespectful text. A response from the official Redwood Falls Gazette Facebook Page indicates that many from within the organization were displeased with the sentiments expressed in the obituary, but their protestations were overruled.
Redwood Falls Gazette manager Lisa Drafall confirmed to The Huffington Post that the family did pay for the obituary to run but would not confirm whether or not there was debate at the paper about its publication.
Meanwhile, the outrage around the publication of the bitter text has caused legacy.com, which also hosted the obituary, to review its policies.
“Because the content standards of our newspaper partners are extremely high, we haven’t needed to implement independent standards in this area,” CEO and founder Stopher Bartol said in a statement on June 5, according to The Star Tribune. “That said, we take very seriously the trust placed in us by our partners and the families we together serve, and we will review and re-evaluate our procedures as necessary.”
Questions about the legality of publishing something so overtly negative about a deceased person have also been raised.
“This kind of trashing of a decedent doesn’t happen very often,” but there is nothing illegal about what was published, said Mark Anfinson, attorney for the Minnesota Newspaper Association, to The Star Tribune.
As for the validity of Gina and Jay's editorializing: A relative named Dwight Dehmlow disputes their claims.
“There is a lot of stuff that is missing," said Dwight to The Star Tribune. “The sad thing about this is there is no rebuttal. There is more to it than this. It’s not simple ... She made a mistake 60 years ago, but who hasn’t? Has she regretted it over the years? Yes.”
The Daily Mail was able to track down Jay Dehmalo, who changed his name to distance himself from Kathleen. Demalo explained that his turbulent relationship with his family was the impetus for writing the brutal obituary.
"You can't believe the dysfunction of the family,' said Dehmalo.. "They'll never know what we went through but it helped us [to write this]. We wanted to finally get the last word ... They have no idea what we went through and back then, in the '50s and '60s, nobody talked about anything."
Jay added that it was Gina's idea to write the obituary, which was rejected from at least one Springfield newspaper.
Dehmalo, who continues to characterize his mother as someone who liked to "drink and party," added that he has no regrets after facing backlash from his decisions.
"We knew there would be backlash but it really has helped us to finally get the last word," he said.
[Photo: Twitter @RandBallsStu]
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