Are there other family historians out there who are like me? Are there any of you who grieve when you learn of the means of death or the age at death of some of your ancestors?
When I learned that my great-uncle Jacob Meinzen died as the result of a 100-foot fall while working, I burst into tears. Right there in the microfilm room at the historical society. He died nearly 100 years ago. When I learned that his brother, Walter, died in the same factory when a piece of equipment broke and flew into his head at high speed and killed him, I once again burst into tears. He was killed more than 100 years ago. And when I learned that my great-great-grandfather killed himself, also more than 100 years ago, once again I cried. When I learned of all of these, I felt like I'd been socked in the chest, the wind knocked out of me. And I grieved - for lives cut short, for family left behind without husbands and fathers, for all the pain they felt.
Because of my response to the deaths of some of my ancestors, it surprised me, while watching Lisa Kudrow on "Who Do You Think You Are?" last night, that her response seemed so mild when she learned the means of death of her ancestors.
And so I'm wondering.... Do you grieve when you learn about the death - too young, or too violent - of an ancestor?
Copyright © 2010 by Nancy Messier.