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Sunday’s Boston Globe runs 21 pages of death notices as coronavirus continues to claim lives

A look at three of the 21 pages of death notices from the April 26 Boston Sunday Globe print edition.
A look at three of the 21 pages of death notices from the April 26 Boston Sunday Globe print edition.The Boston Globe

As the coronavirus continued to claim lives in the past week, the paid death notices in this Sunday’s edition of The Boston Globe surged to 21 pages, up from 16 pages the Sunday before.

For comparison, on the same Sunday last year —April 28, 2019 — the Globe ran seven pages of death notices, according to an archive of the paper.

Those seeking out the death notices might have noticed that they started on B-13 and B-14, with the Sports section interrupting until the notices picked back up on pages C-12 through C-31. The reason for that is as simple as it is devastating: The Globe ran out of room.

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“Sunday’s main news and sports sections together were 60 pages, and we set aside 20 pages for death notices,” said Mary Creane, assistant managing editor for production at the Globe, who was in charge of production Saturday night. “When I logged on yesterday at noon, I had a message saying we’re going to need more space.”

Although the print edition ultimately ran just one page more than budgeted, Creane said that’s because the layout was modified to accommodate the overflow.

“It could’ve gone over more, quite honestly,” she said.

One possible reason for the size of the Sunday death notice section is that with funerals and memorial services suspended due to pandemic gathering restrictions, some families who would otherwise run notices on other days might opt for that edition, the Globe’s most well read.

“People might be saving them for Sunday because Sunday is the bigger paper, and not everyone gets the weekday paper anymore,” Creane said. “We’ve also been setting aside more space for death notices in the daily weekday paper, but we are finding that while they’re bigger than normal, they’re nothing like the Sundays.”

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The need for more pages to fit all the death notices on Sunday came as a shock.

“When we were looking at it earlier, we said, ‘Twenty pages — that’s got to be enough; there’s no way it’s going to go over that,’ ” Creane said. “And then to see that it went over. . . it’s terrifying.”

The death notices are submitted to the Globe for a fee by families and funeral homes from all over Massachusetts, as well as Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, California, Florida, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Some overseas deaths in Australia, Germany, Ireland, and the United Kingdom were also noted.

Although there was no immediate way to determine how many of the deceased were coronavirus victims, some of the notices mentioned a battle with COVID-19.

The grim reminder of the death toll comes as Massachusetts finds itself in a surge of cases.

Coronavirus deaths crossed the 2,500 threshold this past week, although the number of new deaths reported has been declining slightly since April 19, according to state figures.

On Tuesday, Governor Charlie Baker ordered all Massachusetts schools to stay closed through the end of the academic year, and extended the closure of non-emergency child care programs until June 29.

He also signaled on Saturday that the state’s stay-at-home advisory and shutdown of all non-essential businesses, which are set to expire May 4, will probably remain in effect until the recent wave of cases subsides.

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“May 4 was based on our assumption that we were going to be in the surge at some point in early April,” Baker said at a news conference. “The surge has been a little bit later than that."

The state on Sunday reported 169 new deaths from the coronavirus, bringing the total fatalities in Massachusetts to 2,899. The state also reported 1,590 new cases, bringing that total to 54,938.

The number of death notices also climbed from the previous Sunday, in which the Globe ran 16 pages of such tributes. And the Sunday before that (April 12) saw 11 pages.

The April 5 Sunday Globe included nine pages of death notices. Some notices run during the week as well, but far fewer than on Sunday. On Thursday, March 26, the Globe ran fewer than two pages of death notices.

At the Globe, death notices are submitted through a funeral home or the friends or family of the deceased, while obituaries are written by Globe staff members. Anyone seeking to place a death notice can use the self-service application, or a copy can be e-mailed to deathnotices@globe.com, according to the Globe’s customer service website.

John Hilliard of the Globe staff contributed to this report.


Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JaclynReiss