As you walked into your house for a quiet night with the family, all of your friends jump out from behind the furniture and shout “surprise”.
The instigator steps forward just beaming. “I know you said you didn’t want a surprise party”, they say, “but I just couldn’t resist.”
There are three very important parts to that last sentence:
(1) You didn’t want a surprise party.
(2) They acknowledge that they knew you didn’t want a surprise party.
(3) They decided to throw you one anyway to meet their own needs and not yours.
Underneath it all they are convinced that really you will be happy anyway and will thank them. You just didn’t want to ask them for one.
Have you ever been at a surprise party for someone who didn’t want to be surprised? It can really feel uncomfortable. You came in good faith because you thought everything would be lots of fun for the person for whom the party was being thrown. And it just wasn’t. You feel the heat of embarassment and wish you weren’t there. The victim might feel that you were part of the planning of this event.
Karen Kurdziel of the Sun Press and her editors threw us a surprise party. We understand that a story about a child dying has to be told and the level of health risk must be described. But the story they ran was intrusive.
Friends of ours called to warn us that a story was coming. The paper was even called and told of our wishes not to have Elena exploited. The paper’s response was that families have objected in the past and later thanked the paper.
I’m sure there are some people who feel that way. Kim and I are not among them.
In fact, Kurdzeil writes that me and my “family were adamant that their daughter’s private – yet all too public – death not be shared with the press.” And yet Kurdzeil just couldn’t resist. We’ll just love it.
She wrote that we asked for “No interviews. No comments to reporters from friends or relatives. No photos of sunny, funny Elena.” And yet the Sun Press ran a picture of Elena.
Let me tell you where they got this picture of my dead daughter that they ran in their newspaper. They came to the funeral, they took a program, and they photographed the photo that we had printed on the front page of the program and published it without our permission.
In the scheme of things that suck about this past week, this is a minor one. But it was the first thing that Kim saw when she woke up this morning and picked this paper off of the doorstep.
I apologized to Kim. This intrusive insensitive scribe would not have had the information had it not been for this blog. She assured me that she didn’t fault me for writing it but faulted the author for using it.
Neither of us have anything but appreciation for Helen who put such a beautiful program together so quickly for us. She is not to blame for someone misusing the pictures printed on a program for a memorial service.
Sure I’m sharing things here in a public way, but the article, and in particular the picture felt like such a violation.