Monday, August 21, 2006

SSDI Blues

An article of mine just appeared in's 24-7 Family History Circle.

It's actually one of the riskiest pieces I've ever written because it captures my honest reaction just moments after finding my mother listed in the SSDI for the first time. I debated writing about something so personal, but I went ahead because I figured this was probably something most genealogists could relate to -- finding a lost loved one in there for the first time. And maybe because it is so personal, you just never hear about it.

Based on the reaction I've been getting so far, I'm glad I did it. I've had one person taking me to task for my attitude, but I guess that's the price you pay when you write about something of this nature. Everyone else has been very kind and several have shared their own experiences -- and that's what makes it worth it for me.


At 11:15 AM, Anonymous Cynthia Leonard said...

I read your heartfelt item about finding your mother on the SSDI. I have had a different experience and wonder if you know of a solution. My brother passed away in Sept 1996 - almost ten years now - and he is still not listed in the SSDI. He IS on the Social Security records but not this list available to genealogists. I have written who forwarded me to the originators of the list and all say that there is nothing they can do as Social Security does not list him. BUT THEY DO list him. Shall he remain a non-person as far as the SSDI is concerned?
Please advise.

At 12:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this information. I will try finding more info about some of my family this way, too.

I'm sure as you wrote the article, you felt your mom right along with you. That's part of the reason for these searches. I have been "visiting" loved grandparents and great grands, along with aunts and uncles, who have passed. Like you, I lost my mother. I am thankful for being able to find her and her parents at different times in their lives and have more visits with her. Thank goodness for the memories to comfort. Thank you again for your helpful and caring article.

At 2:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the place of death in the SSDI; my father died in the town he'd always lived in. However, his "official address" at the time of death was where I was living at the time. I held his power of attorney and handled all of his business including SS matters.

At 2:24 PM, Blogger Joe said...

Another great article, Megan. Thanks for sharing that.

At 6:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your heart. I lost my mom twelve years ago and I still miss her every day. I think she and your mom may have gotten to know each other up there. Frances

At 8:19 AM, Anonymous Lisa said...


I felt the same way when I found my father's entry a few months ago after his death last November.

So your article really struck a chord. Thanks for being brave enough to write about the experience.

Lisa (your Osturna cousin)

At 1:23 PM, Blogger Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak said...

Hi Cynthia, Joe, Frances, Lisa & the pair of Anonymous folks,

Thanks very much for your comforting words. Between these comments, the ones that have been posted on Ancestry's 24-7, and the ones sent to me privately, I'm really humbled. I can't believe how many people have been so kind to me.

I'm going to wait a bit and then write a follow-up piece consolidating a lot of experiences that folks shared. Cynthia, you're not the only one with that situation, BTW. I don't know much about it, but I'll see if I can learn anything. Anonymous #2, yours is exactly the kind of example I'll try to incorporate.

Anonymous #1, yes, you're right. My mom was definitely with me -- especially since I hadn't even intended to write a piece on the SSDI. But as I was staring at her entry on the computer screen, I knew I had to do it -- and do it right then.

Joe, a remark like that from you -- such a fine writer -- carries special weight. Thanks very much.

Frances, I suspect your mom and mine are tight buddies by now!

And Lisa, you were brave enough to write about the loss of your father too. Isn't it funny how easy it is to shy away from writing about such a universal experience? I'm glad both of us did it, though.

Thanks again to everyone -- Megan

At 2:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just like you, I was afraid to look. My father died on 5/6/2006. Mid-July, I got brave, looked up his name, and there it was. I was surprised that he was listed so fast. The listing made it real for me. I miss you Dad.


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