Death notices meant to help the grieving
Every year about 50 to 55 death notices are sent out to the Seton Hall community through broadcast e-mail, according to Vice President for Mission and Ministry, Monsignor Anthony Ziccardi, who is in charge of the notices.
Usually five to six of these deaths are among students and employees at the University. The many others are among the relatives of employees that wish to notify the community.
Ziccardi said the reason for these e-mails is because we live in a culture that does not deal with death well and where we try our best to avoid it.
“The least that the community can do is to take time to note that someone who is one of us or connected to one of us has died and to show thereby our solidarity with the bereaved and to offer our prayers for the deceased,” Ziccardi said. “For as we have supported others by our prayers while they were alive, we should support them still as they meet their Creator.”
Ziccardi said the process of sending out these death notices starts in one of two places, the Office of Mission and Ministry or the President’s Office.
If the deceased is the close relative of an employee, then the broadcast is sent from the Office for Mission and Ministry where Ziccardi writes the notices himself.
If a student or employee has died, then the broadcast will be sent from the President’s Office.
The University will only send out a death notice if they are informed by someone in their department or by the family of the student.
When it is an employee relative who has died, the employee is asked if they want the community to be notified about the particular relative’s death, Ziccardi said.
“Many of our employees do not want to notify the whole community,” Ziccardi said. “They are content to know that the people in their particular unit or department know.”
If employees wish to send out a death notice the data is gathered from the employee or from the obituary.
The subsequent e-mail announcement contains this information. According to Ziccardi, occasionally the President’s Office will announce the death of a former employee or faculty member who served many years here or the death of a Regent.
When students were asked if they read the death notice e-mails they responded saying most of the time they do not.
Senior Steven Giarratano said he feels students receive so many broadcast e-mails they almost are like spam.
“I feel that if I see that it is a student I would definitely take a look at it, but other than that I probably would not,” Giarratano said.
Senior Alyssa Hebel said she too does not usually read the e-mails.
“It is a nice gesture to send them out, but I’m not sure many students actually take the time to read them,” Hebel said.
While these e-mails may not concern the majority of the university, Ziccardi said it is still important to show the grieving they are not alone.
“It is important to help the bereaved to know that the loss of their loved one is not insignificant and that they are not insignificant,” Ziccardi said. “Their loss matters to us because it matters to them and to the whole of mankind.”
Carolyn Maso can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.