GoFundMe as the new obituary is a topic we have discussed before and will likely discuss again and again ad nauseam until such time as people stop treating GoFundMe like the obituary section and a life insurance policy all in one. So, basically forever or until GoFundMe ceases to exist, whichever happens first.
You may have heard that 55-year-old Randy Budd was found dead by an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in his Uniontown, OH home on Saturday. You may have wondered why you heard this at all, as suicides happen all the time (approximately one every 12.3 minutes in the United States) and they generally don’t end up in the news, save for perhaps a fleeting mention in the fictional Cornfield Tribune-Sun Daily.
Budd and his wife Sharon made national headlines several years back when they were traveling on I-80 through Pennsylvania and a 5 pound rock thrown from an overpass by a group of ‘teens’ crashed through their windshield, permanently disfiguring Sharon. The young men responsible for her injuries were later sentenced to prison for their part in the ‘criminal rock throwing’ incident.
Caught up, now? OK good. So, Sharon did recover from that 2014 incident, however she was left unable to perform her job as a teacher and in need of lifelong care. Some speculate that it was all too much for Randy Budd, and that the blame sits squarely with the four men who threw that rock off an overpass two years ago.
Alas, that is but speculation, and we should respect the wishes of the Budd family during this time.
In a statement to the Canton Repository, the Budd family says:
“The Budd family are all together and are grieving the loss of their dad, husband and brother. We deeply appreciate the tremendous support our family has received from the Massillon, Canton and Hartville areas over the past several years. We ask for your prayers and some privacy as we deal with our loss.”
Despite this statement, a friend who has apparently known Sharon since kindergarten took to GoFundMe barely 24 hours after Randy’s death asking for $20,000:
Dear Friends, As many of you have heard, Randy Budd passed away unexpectedly at his Uniontown home the night of August 6th. However, this is not where this tragedy begins. The tragedy of the Budd story began 2 years ago when Randy, his wife Sharon, and daughter Kaylee were driving down an interstate in rural Pennsylvania on an impromptu road trip to New York City. Their vehicle was suddenly struck by a rock the size of a volleyball, thrown from a highway overpass by four teenagers. The rock crashed through the windshield striking Sharon and inflicting permanent brain damage and causing her to lose an eye. After undergoing dozens of surgeries, Sharon was no longer able to care for herself and be the mother and wife she once was. Randy stood vigilently by the side of his wife not only during her long journey to “recovery”, but for the last 33 years of their marriage. He advocated for her in court, sought justice for the teens who turned his family’s world upside down and worked with state Senators to pass laws mandating fencing on highway overpasses.
Randy was a loving father and husband, a hard-working provider for his family, and a dear friend. Now it is time that we remain #BUDDstrong for Randy and the family he so dearly loved. With his passing, financial obligations remain such as funeral costs, housing and long-term care for Sharon, and their daughter’s college education. Any amount of donation can help support this family once again
NOW LISTEN: I’m going to get crap for this like I did last time I dare say anything about how tasteless it is to slap up a GoFundMe campaign before the body is even in the ground, but I don’t care because this needs to be discussed. The actual family of this man have asked for privacy during this time, yet here’s a friend taking it upon herself to head to the Internet with her hand out on his behalf.
Is it well-intentioned? I’m sure. Is it possible she got the OK from the family before putting it up? Sure, but she makes no mention of it in the campaign. But is this really what we’re doing now? REALLY?
What happened to candlelight vigils, flowers, and bringing by home-cooked meals to the grieving family after someone has passed? Nowadays, we’re gathered around the glow of our laptops, releasing doves in the form of $5 donations (minus 5% to GoFundMe, 2.9% to WePay and a .30 transaction fee, of course) at the virtual wake that is a GoFundMe campaign such as this one.
How long until our own estate planning includes a pre-written GoFundMe campaign that our loved ones can slap up as the coroner’s office is packing our dead body into the back of their van? I, Dead Guy, being of sound mind and body but knowing the uncertainty of life, do hereby make, publish and declare this, my Last Will, Testament, and official GoFundMe page…
I will recognize it’s a bit hypocritical to accuse the campaign owner of failing to respect the family’s wishes for privacy as us writing about the campaign here does the same thing, but lacking a GoFundMe campaign we wouldn’t have anything to write about and therefore would respect the family’s wishes.
Instead, here we are again asking ourselves: how soon is too soon? And why does GoFundMe seem to be the new go-to in our grieving process? Does anyone die these days without a GoFundMe campaign coming somewhere between the coroner’s office and the cold dirt?
Why? Why are we doing this?