It’s been a weird week in death news for the Republican Presidential candidates. Normally I wouldn’t bring politics into the deathblog, but each of these stories is bonkers in its own way and worth sharing.
Romney, Gingrich, and Santorum. One of you is doing death right, one of you is doing death wrong, and one of you is just a’ight. Let’s figure out who’s who, shall we?
Santorum — RIGHT
OK, I know it’s a little strange to say that Santorum is doing anything right. This is the man who thinks homosexuality is a gateway drug to polygamy and beastiality. He also recently declared that babies engendered by rape were a gift from God. Hear me out though. This week it was revealed that Santorum’s wife had a baby that was stillborn — Gabriel. The family brought little Gabriel home for the afternoon for what was essentially a home funeral. They had a wake at home, let the other children see the baby that would not be a part of their lives, and then released him to the funeral home.
Here’s a quote from the American Pregnancy Association on the matter:
With the loss of your baby, your family members will also grieve. Your baby is someone’s granddaughter, brother, cousin, nephew or sister. It is important for your family members to spend time with the baby. This will help them come to terms with their loss. If you have other children, it is very important to be honest with them about what has happened by using simple and honest explanations.
It is NOT a bad thing to want to interact with the deceased, whether it be a baby or an adult. It’s an important ritual, in fact. Santorum’s wife carried this baby, made plans, dreamed what its life would be, and then in a moment that dream was gone. It is healthy for her to be taking time to see the child and accepting the reality of its death.
I shouldn’t even have to defend this, but commentators from FOX News and the Washington Post both came out attacking Santorum for doing this. Anyone who labels a home wake “freakish” or “ghoulish” has sadly wandered far away from the reality of death and mortality.
Gingrich — EH, SORTA
Here is a picture of Newt from 2009, standing with his wife in front of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp.
I’m not sure that I entirely agree. As you may know, there is a morbid travel section of this website called Deathstinations. It is based on an academic discipline called thanotourism — the idea that people are interested in visiting places where death has occurred. So, fundamentally, there is nothing wrong with Newt visiting a concentration camp. It is part of our natural instincts as humans.
At the same time there is something negative to be said for his posed campaign smile here. There’s a difference between visiting a location like the La Brea Tar Pits (or even Gettysburg!) and smiling like that. But Auschwitz is the symbol of horror and atrocity. It doesn’t get more intense or profound than Auschwitz. To be fair to Newt, it’s possible that someone said, “Newt, Newt, let’s get a quick picture!” and the look he has is his “WTF am I supposed to do in this picture outside Auschwitz shit I better decide quick I’m so awkward uuggghhhh&!^@!”-face.
Romney –– WRONG
Oh Mitty. Your wife Ann’s father was a “staunch atheist” his whole life. He died an atheist in 1992. He was happily dead, hanging out presumably sans any sort of afterlife.
But it was revealed this week that Mitt and the Mormon church posthumously baptized him into the Mormon church. Dude, you don’t get to do that!
This issue came up in the media a few years ago. The stories at that time had titles like “Holocaust Survivors Want Mormons to Stop Baptizing Dead Jews.” Which is pretty self-explanatory. Dear Mormon church, the victims of the Holocaust probably do not want you declaring that they are now Mormons, thanks.
The Church says they give the dead souls a “choice” as to whether or not to accept the baptism, but given that they’re not talking back (as they are dead, you see) they are kinda stuck with the label, like it or not.
Thanks to Dr. Frankel for being on the death political beat.