Another type of news that is sometimes sent out is a notice of the death of a scholar in the field. In most cases, they are written quite simply, tastefully and respectfully, rather like obituaries. They note that the person has died, mention the names of surviving relatives and students, and describe their contributions to their field of study, usually in the glowing terms that befit a deceased person. But every once in a while, a death notice comes across one of the lists that is tasteless, baffling, distressing, and surely unworthy of the dignity of the decedent.
I got one today (edited slightly where [redacted] doesn't quite cut it):
The message in and of itself wasn't so grossly bad, but until further notices went out filling in more of the back story, it was a lot of disturbing sound and fury; without knowing more, it almost seemed that a scholar knew she was dying rapidly and requested that her organs be donated, a scene which occasioned much contemplation not just of mortality but of awareness of mortality. I must not have been the only one who found this odd, since more specific details — that were really none of my business or that of probably most people on the list-serve — trickled out over the course of the day. I know that with a dead young woman in the mix, this is hardly the most pressing issue. The scholarly community, particularly among medievalists in certain sub-disciplines is small, but it's not quite that small. That's just too much detail for everyone in that world to get in their inboxes first thing in the morning. This is a scholar whose work I am first learning about after finding out lots of information about the circumstances under which she died. That's not fair to her intellectual legacy.
The all-time worst, however, was a list-serve death notice that contained this paragraph: