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Why would a dead person have no record of that death?

I have a weird family history and have never known much detail about most of the people in my family that wasn't first hand knowledge. I went into foster care before I was a teenager and found out later in life that my uncle had killed himself. My nana found him from what I understand and my crazy aunt, (nanas daughter) has referenced this at least once to me. My nana died before 2000.

I have vague memories of my uncle and remember liking him when I was a child. He was a giant, gaunt bearded Vietnam vet who was quiet and gentle. I have remember my nana saying something about a partial lobotomy (?) having been performed on him but that doesn't sound right as he later married someone and I remember him driving.

I was looking for where he would be buried because I was thinking about maybe visiting his grave because I don't have any bad memories of him. But, there is no grave. I searched my State's death records and found both of my grandparents' (grandfather had some interesting medical information included) but, nothing on my uncle.

I searched his name and found some Army information, just a tiny bit and the weirdest part, a cell phone number and a po box listed in his name and some addresses after my nana died (who died after he did).

I can find tons of information about my entire family - I even found my grandparents' places of birth, my grandfather's parents' names, some concentration camp records, confirmed where my nana was from (I only knew Austria). I found my family records from when they came over (ship manifest) and Ellis Island record.

All that is just to confirm that I did dig deep, even paying for a background search on all of them. no death record. is that weird or do dead people often not have any news/information about their death findable?

by Anonymousreply 65Last Wednesday at 11:39 PM

One of me ex lovers has literally disappeared off the face of the earth. Ive no doubt hes long dead,but the last reference I found to him was he was released from prison in 1987 then nada. Ive done a credit search,death record search,everything possible on the internet (Yes,I got a little obsessed) and nothing. I can only assume he ended up in a paupers grave somewhere unidentified.

by Anonymousreply 108/29/2020

Hi OP.

It could be that your uncle died in another state than the one you expected. My great grandfather died in the 50s and we all expected him to have a death record in the state he was buried (OH) but he had actually died in NY state. I've done searches like that twice now where I was searching, like, the third likeliest place they would have died. In both cases I got to the last box of microfilm and found my answer(s)!

If he doesn't have a super common name, you can search Ancestry dot com and see if his name comes up in any city directories, which can provide a hint to the possible state (as in, US state) he was in when he died.

You may also be able to search the Social Security Death Index although access to that was, I think, limited a few years ago due to attempted fraud.

If you feel comfortable sharing, let me know what state? I may have another suggestion (or may not).

But if he died prior to the Internet age, yes, there should be SOME kind of record. Most people got at minimum a death notice in the newspaper and certainly an obituary. There would for sure have been a state death record.

Obituaries are less common now which is kind of ironic in the information age - we have fewer obits because newspapers are now charging substantial amounts of $$ for them and people are often opting not to post or publish them.

by Anonymousreply 208/29/2020

I am sorry that you are not able to find him r1. Did he maybe change his name?

by Anonymousreply 308/29/2020

OP here's the SSDI

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 408/29/2020

OP, are you wondering or suggesting that he might still be alive?

by Anonymousreply 508/29/2020

r2, we have a super uncommon name and it's said my nana found him in his apartment up the street from hers. which is to say, the state is known. I live in Vermont (which is where he supposedly died) and there are super easy death records, I found both grandparents' and even copies of their death certificates.

I searched on family search which I see someone just posted and paid for a search on truthfinders. all had the same information (and lack of). now I just have my curiosity up because as I said, complicated family history.

by Anonymousreply 608/29/2020

r5, that would be way too weird right? it would open up so many other questions. but, why can't I find information about where he's buried or a death certificate?

I went down a rabbit hole this afternoon, clearly I have too much time on my hands!

by Anonymousreply 708/29/2020

I understand. The great grandfather I mentioned above...took me two years to find his death info.

Not to say anyone is not telling the truth but it may be that he died somewhere else. I would suggest a newspaper search (national database) but is pretty awful.

OH - one other thing that happens a fair amount with records is that there could have been a misspelling.

by Anonymousreply 808/29/2020

that is good advice r8, I did all the common misspellings and his birth records have his name spelled correctly but I haven't gone through newspapers dot com and the like. the records of my grandfather referenced the non Americanized version of his name. I may just take it upon myself to call the cell number listed in my uncles name. but maybe not, that would be weird. but, he died before cell phones were a thing here. this has become like a mental mosquito bite.

by Anonymousreply 908/29/2020

OP, do you have a birth date (even a year would help) and place of birth? As well as first and last name, of course. SSDI (as mentioned above) is an important source.

You say you have some military information on him - does any of that documentation contains his service number? Perhaps the Veterans Administration might be a good source.

Did you check the military records for possible burial in a National Cemetery - perhaps not in the state you expected? You could try the link below. Even some non-military cemeteries have a section for veterans. Also if a military gravestone was requested for him, you might find a record at this link.

Or you could try funerals homes in the area in which he lived. If they don't have a record, they might offer helpful suggestions.

Is it possible he was cremated? Cremations result in a real lack of important genealogy information.

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 1008/29/2020

I highly doubt it Rescue-chick . He was on the fringes of society anyway . Truth be told,he was a hustler when I met him ,unbeknownst to me. I just assume aids got him,or alcohol . He never did drugs except some weed . He pretty much stuck to florida and alabama in his travels,but who knows where he ended up . I guess its fate really that I didnt find him,though Ive found every single one of me exs (and that was quite the list!).

by Anonymousreply 1108/29/2020

I did check if he was buried in a military graveyard. I have his birthday and place of birth (in Austria) and date they came to the US. I have the date he enlisted but would the VA give information to some random niece? I thought only spouses, children and parents could?

I don't know about cremation, would that cause not to have a death record or just not have a burial site? I feel like my grandmother would have had his urn out and about if he was cremated, she was a borderline hoarder.

by Anonymousreply 1208/29/2020

As far as I know, yes, there would be a death certificate even if cremation was chosen.

One thing is good at is providing possible links to other records. Since you have his birth date, place of birth, and date of immigration, I would try doing a search using all these parameters and see if links to other records.

Most people don't realize that their public library frequently has a subscription to With a library card, you can access it. Unfortunately, unlike other library databases subscriptions that can be accessed with your home computer, you can only use IN the library on one of their computers. Bring a USB drive with you to copy any records you find.

by Anonymousreply 1308/29/2020

He may be in the VA death database. You can use this link to see if he is listed. If he is and you want details, you will have to buy a one-month Ancestry membership or go to the library.

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 1408/29/2020

Also, has pages from city directories up until 1995.

For Vermont, they have some directories from different cities and counties. These are not complete sets of directories, though.

You might also be able to check for him in the school yearbook collection on Ancestry. Perhaps old classmates could help you.

by Anonymousreply 1508/29/2020

Rescue chick, I wish DL had message capabilities. I have Ancestry and would gladly do a search for you. But as someone said above, many libraries have access too. And you can get a 7 day trial, too.

by Anonymousreply 1608/29/2020

I just searched the VA one r14, thank you. I did exact last name, no first name- no results. I did last name, not exact search with first initial and 8 names came up. 2 were in the same time period (several years) and age range even though they were not the exact same spelling last name as ours. I googled the 2 and found obituaries for both of them and they were not him.

I did (last year) find his senior year high school year book online. his picture made me literally sob. he was so young and it was 6 months before he went to Vietnam. I mean, he was a 6 foot 6 inch baby faced teenager. I never would have guessed it was him. I remember him being being as tall as the sky and hairy. just all beard and old. this would have been about 10 (?) years after that picture was taken. of course, that sent me on a rabbit hole about Vietnam. they were all babies, not even grown men. I never really realized that.

Thanks for listening to me ramble! I get on these weird family remembrance kicks every few years.

by Anonymousreply 1708/29/2020

I don't like to ever ask questions of real life people who may have answers about him (or any of my family) because I don't want anyone from my family contacting me. they're certifiable and malignant. I actually avoid anyone who even slightly knows any of them even if it was 30 or 40 years ago. because, birds of a feather sometimes and you never know who.

by Anonymousreply 1808/29/2020

Sorry to keep chiming in, but the thing that occurred to me for both you and R1 is that one possibility is that he changed his name, or was known by another name when he died. This could of course make it next to impossible to find him.

(That might apply more to R1's situation than OP's but still a possibility, especially if he was estranged from family.)

Do you have your Nana's obituary, OP? From the newspaper?

by Anonymousreply 1908/29/2020

r19, my nana didn't have an obituary, the fucking cunts she birthed just took the medical payout, slapped a marker (not even a nice headstone) on her grave and I am pretty sure my mother did something low because she wound up with all of nana's nice (for poor people, nice like sentimental and antique) stuff sold before she was even buried. some of it was supposed to be mine because my grandmother loved me and only me. no one told me she died, I found out from the Avon lady later.

by Anonymousreply 2008/29/2020

I don't know r20 if he would have changed his name. I do feel like that would have become * a thing* in any of the numerous family fights and folklore. as far as I know, my nana was the only one who cared he died. she loved him which tells me he was probably a decent person because she hated her daughters and so do I. and she loved me. I think I was her favorite followed by him. I think it would have broken her heart if he changed his name and she would have bitterly included that in any mention of him.

by Anonymousreply 2108/29/2020

Oh, sounds terrible, rescue chick.

I can see why you don't want to wake the beast, so to speak, with those assholes.

by Anonymousreply 2208/29/2020

OP, maybe he left the US and might be living abroad or he might have died overseas.

Or he might have been receiving health benefits from the VA. Perhaps you could contact the VA and ask them since you have his military information.

by Anonymousreply 2308/29/2020

OP, if he was born in Austria, he and the rest of the family might have used an Anglicized version of his name. The name change could have been so long ago that the rest of the family only called him by the changed name.

Is it possible that his death wasn’t reported or the death certificate not filed.? Your nana might have trusted that to one of the siblings who might be collecting your uncle’s veteran’s benefits or social security.

by Anonymousreply 2408/29/2020

I wondered about that r24 (your 2nd paragraph). I don't know about what happens when people die, does the family file a puplic death certificate? I found everyone else's certificates. I absolutely could see my mother not notifying any agencies about his death and collecting his benefits but do Veterans have to ever check in in person to fill out paperwork? if not, that would explain the po box and cell phone in his name but I would think in over 20 years the government would have needed some sort of meeting or the state would have submitted a list of deaths or something?

everything just makes me have more questions but if this is what happened, maybe I could finally see my mother imprisoned for something. and she's not a citizen, she has a green card. maybe they'll deport the bitch.

by Anonymousreply 2508/30/2020

OP, do you have his social security number?

by Anonymousreply 2608/30/2020

R25 Try Find A Grave and Family Search, which has better records than Ancestry in many cases. Also for obituaries.

by Anonymousreply 2708/30/2020

I finally bought a subscription to a couple months ago. I have found it is the best at locating not only obituaries but other stories as well. I found many, many more obituaries than were on

Also consider Fold3, a database that contains mostly military records.

Both of these databases are frequently subscribed to by public libraries and I think can be accessed from home with your library card.

GOOD NEWS! I just checked one of my local libraries and there is a notation that library card holders can access FROM HOME until September 30th, thanks to Ancestry and Proquest.!!! Check your own library to see if this is true for you as well.

by Anonymousreply 2808/30/2020

I've thought about getting but it is SO expensive for what you get.

Ancestry has a deluxe version which includes Fold3 and but as it turns out the access you get there is "basic" which means most of what you search for is still unavailable. Not worth it.

by Anonymousreply 2908/30/2020

thanks r28! I just signed up for a library card and once I get it in the mail I can access ancestry and newspapers. coms. I will say, I was able to see (not open) all the newspaper articles with my family's last name and there was a shitton of drunken grandfather arrests (one I am interested in reading because he had 2 young male hitchhikers with him), a couple of domestic abuse charges against my mother and aunt and both my grandparents death notices (not obituaries, just listings). my uncle also apparently sold some speakers in the seventies with an ad in the newspaper. no death notice or obituary for him.

I did find his social security number, but I didn't note it. I am sure I can find it again. I am kind of weirded out by some of the information available about people!

by Anonymousreply 3008/30/2020

Certain counties in California you can call the Medical examiner’s office and get information about deaths in that county. If you just have a name and not a date of birth it may be hard to narrow down.

by Anonymousreply 3108/30/2020

I have everything except date of death r31 :) I just need to figure out if this is actually a can of worms I want to open. I think it is but need to give it a little time to make sure.

by Anonymousreply 3208/30/2020

That makes sense. I was in foster homes when i was younger and discovered living family members later in life. You can’t close it once it is open.

by Anonymousreply 3308/30/2020

Your nana loved you very much, didn't she OP? I hope you find the information you seek about your uncle and are able to visit his grave.

by Anonymousreply 3408/30/2020

my nana made me the person I am today and I would be long dead many times over without her foundation of love I had as a child. I desperately wish as an adult that I had known I wouldn't have her for long and paid better attention and asked her more questions. she was fascinating and the toughest, strongest, most fearless person I have ever met. and she saw a lot of shit in her lifetime. I just wish she could somehow know how much I love her.

by Anonymousreply 3508/30/2020

hugs xoxoxoxo

by Anonymousreply 3608/30/2020

rescue-chick, you were so lucky to have had her in your life.

Sometimes I have dreams about special people that I've lost and it almost feels like a real connection and that they know what they meant to me. I choose to believe they do. I hope you have visits in your dreams with your nana, too.

by Anonymousreply 3708/30/2020

R37 My mother and sister visit me in my dreams sometimes. Mom's been gone for years and my sister took her own life......but I think both are at peace now.

by Anonymousreply 3808/30/2020

The only reason that a person wouldn't have a death certificate would be if it was not reported.

by Anonymousreply 3908/30/2020

Who is responsible for reporting it r39? it seems like something that the medical examiner would be responsible for doing right? off to google!

by Anonymousreply 4008/30/2020

One possible resource is to ask the coroner of the county in which he died. They may be willing to provide information about his date of death and burial place if they have it. (It depends a bit on time lapsed since it happened, as they are reluctant to provide info for more recent deaths.)

by Anonymousreply 4108/30/2020

I just read, a doctor or funeral director is responsible for filing but, everyone gets one. crazy

by Anonymousreply 4208/30/2020

My aforementioned sister had some issues at the end of her life, bless her. She was about to be fired from a very high paying job and she called me in a panic. In a corner as to explain how and why she had missed work, she told her bosses that her brother (me) had died, and wanted to put an obit in the paper. That was how *I* learned that only a funeral director can place an obit, because of the potential for fraud.

by Anonymousreply 4308/30/2020

Rescue chick - goodness, that summary at R30 is quite a list!

by Anonymousreply 4408/30/2020

Social Security or military benefits (payments) might be a way to find out more. If he had been collecting benefits, the gov't would have been mailing his checks to a specific address. Even if he were getting direct deposits, he would have had to provide an address at some point.

Could be that he is dead and someone is still cashing his checks; therefore, doesn't want it known that he's dead.

Good luck.

by Anonymousreply 4508/30/2020

it was the speakers that got you r44 wasn't it ;)

Thanks all for encouraging me and not calling me crazy. I am sure it will wind up being something mundane but with my family history it could actually also be something. because no one brings the crazy like drunken, drug addicted, abusive sociopathic white trash german /austrian and Russian immigrants! and, I have tge crazy stories to back that claim up.

I will emotionally prepare and continue next weekend.

by Anonymousreply 4608/30/2020

If he had changed his name, you would see it. My grandfather--bio father of my adopted father--changed his name from a very long Greek surname. I was casually searching Family Search, and the two came up together on the same record.

by Anonymousreply 4708/30/2020

Have you considered that he isn't really dead, regardless of what you have been told? Also, have you done a DNA test in Ancestry or 23 and Me? That will help track others down who might know.

by Anonymousreply 4808/30/2020

You can get a small part of his military records from the National Archives.

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 4908/30/2020

Are the cell and po box in the last known place that he lived?

If he married someone, that record would be somewhere. I would suggest that you find out that lady (or her relatives) and maybe send a very discreet, gentle email or letter saying that you would love to know more about him.

If he lived up the street from your nana, he would be in the old phone directories. If you are in the same state, make a trip to the public library and ask to look at their old phone directories: they used to list a lot of information--like jobs and who they lived with. (You could also take a glance at who owned the home/apartment he lived in, who his neighbors might have been, etc.)

If you have his military background (what troop he was in, etc), you might check the vet reunion sites--they also have message boards--and see if you can find any of the guys he served with. They often stay in touch with each other. (Also, if there is a veterans association or lodge or American legion in the town where he lived, they might have info on him.

Does his high school have a reunion coming up for his class? Or info from the last one? Write those people--you'll find them through social media--and ask if any of them remembers him.

You can certainly try filling out a form to get his military records from the VA. You send in the form. Wait. They'll write you back. Then you write them back. If you really want to persist, call your congressional representative and ask them to intervene.

What religion are you guys? Do you think he might have been a member of a church or synagogue or something? They usually keep records of their members.

People who are alive are always the best place to start. You can sidestep your family, and try to find other people.

Good luck

by Anonymousreply 5008/30/2020

my family is very very tiny. we're trashy but not breed-y. I think we all just hate our genetics too much. or, we're selfish. I don't know. There's literally just 9 of us and 3 of those are minor children of my cousin. I don't know if I would want to find my grandfather's family in Ukraine because he was a sadist, drunk and rapist. It seemed to come naturally to him so, i don't want to know of any of his Ukrainian bloodline. My nana did keep up via letters with a few people in Austria but they were not English speakers and would likely be dead by now.

by Anonymousreply 5108/30/2020

we are all atheists, I didn't even know what a church was beyond getting clothing there. he was married but also divorced long before any of this. if I can't find out anything through official channels I can see if she's still alive and reach out. I fear scaring anyone who has had contact with my family almost as much as I don't want to talk to anyone who knew my family.

the cell and POBox are AFTER he died. like, the past 10 years and while in the same state, the opposite end. I think until the library card gets here I will look at the way of getting veteran records.

by Anonymousreply 5208/30/2020

I had trouble looking up an ancestors death....turns out his name was misspelled in the death records (name is Wootten, misspelled as Wootton)

by Anonymousreply 5308/30/2020

Hence my question, R52/OP, if you have considered he wasn't really dead. As screwed up as your family is, it is possible.

by Anonymousreply 5408/30/2020

Rescue chick,someone may have stolen his info and got the cell and po box in his name.

by Anonymousreply 5508/30/2020

R50 again.

Actually, the first thing I would do is get his last address--from the phone directories--and contact the person who currently owns that property. They would know if anyone committed suicide on their property because it would have been disclosed to them at the time of sale.

When do we think this happened--the 90s? The 80s?

If you can get your hands on the old directories, you might be able to see where he worked? What he did for a living. (I paid a researched $10 to check phone directories in Wisconsin --far away from me--and they send me back photocopies of the directory that listed employers.) You might be able to talk to some of his old co-workers on social media.

You're trying to figure out if he's dead, right?

I suggest you start reaching out to people as soon as possible. His friends and co-workers will be old. Once they're dead, you won't get any info out of them.

by Anonymousreply 5608/30/2020

Me again.

OP, check and see if the old county/city where your uncle and nana lived has a genealogical society or a historical society. (Look on facebook or google.) This was how I found that researcher who went to the Milwaukee library and researched the phone directories for me. The geneaological society would check phone directories or other sources of information for a small fee once a month. Your town might have one, too.

(This is a really nice thing that people do.)

by Anonymousreply 5708/30/2020

If you find the obituaries from either of his parents, be sure to check the wording to see if he is mentioned in either parent's obit and if he is listed as their "late" deceased son.

Sorry you are encountering unsettling info about your family.

I try to warn people that while doing family research, there is a good chance they will encounter "THE FAMILY SECRET", whatever it is. I've seen some real eye openers. There used to be a website where researchers gave the stories of the "black sheep" of their family and the tales that family told to cover up.

by Anonymousreply 5808/30/2020

as far as family secrets go, a non dead dead uncle is not even the top 10 of my family's open and out there shit. I would list a few but you all would immediately EST me, they're that crazy.

it would actually make me feel closer to him as I also went to extreme lengths escape the family both literally and emotionally

by Anonymousreply 5908/30/2020

Apropos of what the genealogist said, you could go to the courthouse of the last city he lived and do a search of the OLD records (that won't be on the county's website portal) just to make sure something gruesome didn't happen.

by Anonymousreply 6008/30/2020

When you get your library card and can access, go the menu item Search -> Card Catalog and search for "US, City Directories". Scroll down for the link and you might a directory for the location and date you are interested in. Their directories go up to 1995. They are not complete, but you may find him. Also, if his name is unique enough, you might find him in an unexpected place.

by Anonymousreply 6108/30/2020

He had no children that you know of?

by Anonymousreply 6208/30/2020

I think that the woman he married had children already, I don't know if he had his own. I am not prepared to contact any children if he had any (none come up with his name) because again, genetics. I can't chance it.

I am taking avid notes on all the great suggestions in here, you guys are really helpful!

by Anonymousreply 6308/30/2020

My husband tried to get a 2nd mortgage for his mother. Omg. He spent months trying to get her birth certificate. She never had a driver’s license. She only has a NYC photo ID of some kind & the bank wanted 2 pieces of state or federal govt-issued ID, so the birth certificate was the only thing he could get. He did searches& traveled into Brooklyn to the department of records and he found a birth certificate of a female child born on her birthday in the year she was born, in the same hospital, with the same last name & with her parents listed on it. But a with a completely different first name. Her mother was crazy. I mean she was literally insane - I suspect she died of strokes possibly due to syphilis.

So obviously, her mother renamed her at some point. In those days, record keeping wasn’t so good. She must’ve given the city school system a copy of her birth certificate and told them she went by her middle name or something. But also they were Jewish & everybody had 2 names - a Hebrew name & an English name. They always lived in Jewish neighborhoods where they knew everybody, so I’m guessing it was no big deal registering at the school.

He couldn’t get the mortgage. Everything his mother had - high school diploma, marriage certificate, city ID, mail - was in a different name than the one on the birth certificate.

by Anonymousreply 64Last Wednesday at 3:25 PM

You have to go to court and get an official name change.

My father was "unofficially" adopted and all school records were in the only name that he knew--but his birth certificate had a different name. So when he went to buy a house--this was in the 80s--he had to go to court to get an official name change.

by Anonymousreply 65Last Wednesday at 11:39 PM
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