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9 of the Most Incredible Obituary Connections of 2015

Photo by Priscilla Liu

We reviewed more than 12 million obituary Guest Book entries in 2015. We have some amazing stories to share.

At Legacy.com, we're immersed in the grief of the millions who visit our obituary Guest Books. They come to write condolences and share memories, not only in the days and weeks after a death but year after year. Sometimes they return to leave notes on special anniversaries; other times, when they're reminded of the deceased by some small detail of their day. 

In 2015 we screened more than 12 million of these entries, creating a safe space for grieving families. 

Though grief is a big part of these pages, our work isn't all tragic. We also witness the inspiring, life-affirming ways that technology brings us closer together. Each day, our Guest Books reveal new examples of human kindness that leave us smiling.

Here are nine times that amazing Guest Book entries warmed our hearts in 2015.

1. Austin died five years ago but he’s still making friends.

Austin BlankenshipAustin Blankenship died Dec. 14, 2010, at age 16, when a driver plowed into the family’s home. Five years later, the young man, who would have celebrated his 21st birthday March 14, 2015, continues to inspire people far and wide – thanks to the special balloons his family launches each St. Patrick’s Day in memory of their son and brother. Each balloon – one for every year since Austin’s birth – contains a message introducing Austin and describing some of the things that made him special (his baby blue eyes, offbeat sense of humor, and artistic talent, to name a few). After finding one of Austin’s balloons last December, Angela, a 55-year-old widow in Washington, went online to find Austin’s memorial Guest Book. There, like others before her, she shared the story of finding the balloon and ‘meeting’ this amazing young man, as well as her heartfelt sympathy for the family who’d lost Austin four years earlier.

 

2. Sean Sweetman will never be forgotten.

Sean SweetmanSince his death nearly four years ago, family and friends have visited Sean Sweetman’s online Guest Book nearly every day, leaving notes for Sean or words of comfort for his parents. With nearly 4,000 messages and more than 200 photos, the Guest Book is a living, breathing memorial to a two-year-old boy who died much too soon. Read his mother’s emotional letter of thanks to all of their supporters.

 

 

3. Soldier Chris Fox supported by comrades in arms, seven years on.

Army specialist Christopher T. FoxFriends, colleagues and even strangers continue to leave messages in the Guest Book of Army specialist Christopher T. Fox, who served in Iraq and was killed in 2008 while on patrol in Baghdad. Their love shines through in the words they share. And apparently, the admiration was mutual: according to a story published on the Military Times’ site Honor the Fallen, Fox “loved the people he worked with, comrades in arms.” Three years in, Fox was on his second tour when he was killed. Said friend Amy Frost, “He died over there fighting for something.”

 

 

4. Teacher Nancy Gruhle inspired this incredible tribute.

At first glance, teacher Nancy Gruhle's obituary and Guest Book seemed ordinary enough. But one Guest Book message stood out, inspiring our team to take a closer look not only at the comforting words but also at the link included in the entry. A link to YouTube is not unusual in a Guest Book entry, but what you find when you visit this link is: While Nancy Gruhle was fighting cancer, her students and colleagues filmed an exuberant and heartwarming get-well video. It is an extraordinary production dedicated to an extraordinary woman.

 

5. Tributes to Louise Moulton lifted her daughter’s spirits.

Louise MoultonWhen Rose’s mother Louise Moulton died earlier this year, Rose was “feeling a little empty and lost.” Then she discovered the messages left in her mom’s memorial Guest Book and realized Louise lives on in the memories of those who knew and loved her.

“Look at the people you touched, Mom, and the memories you have left behind... I think you made an impact on more people than you could possibly have imagined. I thank everyone who has taken the time to put into words what my mom meant to them.”

 

6. Lunch lady Lou Etta Garcia lovingly remembered.

Lou Etta GarciaIt isn’t only close family members and friends whose deaths affect us. Case in point: this beautiful tribute to lunchroom worker Lou Etta Garcia, who “took care of all of us, and our messes – with kindness.” Wrote Jennifer Botzojorns in the Guest Book, “her small acts created a huge space in my heart.”

 

 

 

7. Best friends John Hinkle and Fred Carroll didn’t need words to say goodbye.

John HinkleSometimes there are no words to convey how we feel about someone. Such was the case with best friends John Hinkle and Fred Carroll. When Fred was in hospice in 2011, John came to visit him and the two Korean War vets simply held hands. After John died in 2015, Fred’s daughter left this beautiful condolence message in John’s Guest Book, remembering that final moment the two friends had shared four years earlier.

 

 

8. Granddaughter says “I love you” one more time.

Helen and Kayla ErspamerGrandmothers are special. They love unconditionally and, unlike mothers, they’re more likely to bend the rules than to enforce them. When Kayla’s grandmother Helen Erspamer died, Kayla penned this beautiful tribute in her grandmother’s Guest Book. It’s clear that during her lifetime Helen, aka Grandma Dody, touched many.

“Anyone who met Grandma Dody fell in love with her. She had a fantastic ability to comfort others, even strangers.”

But mostly Kayla’s poignant tribute speaks to the special connection she and her grandmother shared.

 

9. This is the best wedding proposal ever.

Ramona GarnicaOften, Legacy.com visitors will use a loved one’s Guest Book as a means of sharing important news with the deceased. Weddings, births, school and job updates – anything they would have shared with their loved one in life, they're likely to share in the Guest Book after that loved one is gone.

So when Iorena Garnica wrote to her departed mother Ramona Garnica to share the news of her engagement, we weren’t surprised. What did surprise us – and cause us to shed more than a few tears – was the beautiful way Iorena’s fiancé included her mother in the proposal. Read the full engagement story here