Do you think that Ann Landers was a wonderful person? Think again! This loving bit by her niece says it all:
You slipped away. You swore your daughter and staff to secrecy. Nobody was to know. Your wish was to be remembered as vital and indestructible by your public and your family — and you will be.
As you directed, there will be no funeral, no memorial, and your ashes will be quietly scattered over your beloved Lake Michigan. A fine plan, but how are the people you left behind to deal with the grief you have left in your wake?
What sort of callous person dies in deliberate silence like this? People don’t have funerals for their own benefit. They’re dead. What the living does has no effect on them any longer!
Funerals are for the benefit of the living, for the people who are left behind, for the people with holes in their hearts, for the people who can gain some comfort and solace by grieving with others. To forbid others this comfort when it makes no difference to you is perhaps the cruelest thing you can do to those allegedly loved ones.
To keep a serious illness secret until death is certainly more justifiable, as it allows a person to live to their fullest until their dying day. It is not a choice that I would make, but it is a legitimate and moral choice. However, such concealment means that the death comes as a terrible shock to others. And so secrecy before death makes a funeral after death so much more important in the grief process for those left behind. So to demand secrecy before death and silence afterwards is cruel indeed.
People generally condemn such behavior as “selfish.” But Ann Landers, and people who do such things, usually aren’t benefiting themselves in such action. As I mentioned, it makes no difference to dead Ann Landers whether people tend to her lifeless body this way or that way. What such allegedly “selfish” people all are is unthinking. They are not conscious of what they are doing. Or they are deliberately evil.
Whichever one of these Ann Landers was, I still say “good riddance!” Such people should not be doling out advice.