Finding Mom in the SSDI

While browsing the Social Security Death Index on for my great-grandfather, Max Doerflinger, I found an entry for my Mom.

My heart stopped when I saw it and I debated whether or not to click on it.  I finally decided to open it.  I read her name over and over again.  I cringed when I saw they listed the wrong last residence.  I held my breath and I read her birth date and realized that her birthday was only a week away.  And I let out a long sigh as I saw her date of death.  Then the tears came, but only for a moment.  But then I smiled when I saw the year she got her social security number – I didn’t know that information before.

Have you ever come across a record that gave you some mixed feelings?

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11 responses to “Finding Mom in the SSDI

  1. Elyse,

    Understand perfectly! It will be a year since my Dad died on August 31, 2011. I have yet to enter his death date into any of my databases. Just the other day on Geni the announcement of his birthday was featured. Until we put in the date his celebrations will keep appearing. As the family historian I know it is my responsibility to enter all correct and current information. Don’t know how long it will take to feel I’m ready.

    Your postings about your Mother have been some of my favorites. What a wonderful lady!


  2. I remember when my Dad passed away it took me weeks to enter his death date onto my Family Tree database. I finally did it one morning alone and cried for hours. Then when he showed up on the SSDI it happened again. And every Memorial Day. But less tears, and more smiles each year as we talk about the good memories. I’m not looking forward to the day I have to do my Mom’s entry. Ah, life….

  3. Oh yes. Just like you. Finding my mother in the SSDI. It was little longer after – maybe 3 years. It was an even stranger moment when Ancestry set her leaf shakin’ to let me know they’d found the record. Not my favorite finds…. You’re handling it so much more maturely than I did. May you continue to heal.

  4. For me the odd thing about my database was using the tool to calculate the average life span for people I’d entered: 64 years! GASP. But there’s a lot of things that makes it look worse than it is: several children who died young, several coal miners that died in their early 20’s….I had to reason myself out of a panic!

  5. I recently visited my grandmother’s grave and it was both creepy and satisfying that I saw my own daughter’s name on it… Sometimes those records give us pause. I’m sorry for your tears, though.

  6. Thanks for this important moment. It is critical to your maturity. I’m on the ‘other’ end… I keep finding myself entering deaths of people younger than I am… interesting, to say the least. 😉

  7. I had come across an aunt of mine that my dad had told me died when she was young. What I didn’t know was that she was 5 years old. Up until I found her, I always thought that I knew all of my aunts and uncles.

  8. Elyse
    I totally understand. Seeing the black band across the photo marker on my husband’s record makes me swallow hard even now, almost six years later. Hugs.

  9. What a difficult and unexpected thing to pop up, just when you were least expecting it. We don’t have SSDI in Scotland, but occasionally when I’m researching, I have the urge to look at Dad’s or Mum’s birth/death/marriage certificate, which is a little weird, but I find their marriage cert comforting somehow. The thing which has upset me most (strangely enough because of course I never knew him) was a death cert for my Great Great Grandfather which listed his cause of death as “suicide by drowning” (at the age 0f 88). When I checked the newspaper reports some time later, the family said he “hadn’t been himself lately”, so I guess he didn’t deliberately commit suicide but accidentally fell into the river and couldn’t get out again. I wept buckets in the Library, but the kind staff ignored me. Jo

  10. Reading diaries that both my mom and dad kept — as well as 250 WWII letters — back and forth between family and my uncle, made me privy to information that had been secret for decades. Enlightening — and disturbing at times. We look into our family’s past as historians — and the past isn’t always pretty — or sweet– or comforting. But it’s reality, often leading to greater understanding — which is what I think motivates most of us genealogist/family historians.

  11. All I knew about this great uncle was that he had died on the mountain (Mont Royal in Montréal). Indeed he had died on the mountain. But until I held the coronor’s report in my hand no on in the living family had known he had committed suicide on the mountain. He died alone on Mont Royal, 43 years old, with a book of poems by his side along with a bottle of poison.

    I cried and cried for this man, whom I had never met but who is my ancestor and part of my family.

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