- Death & Loss of Life
How to Write a Memorable Obituary
What is An Obituary?
First, may I say, if you have found this page because you recently lost a loved one, I am so sorry for your loss. My hope is that the tips and advice in this brief article will make this process the easiest it can be for you.
To begin, an obituary is an article written for publication in a newspaper to notify readers of someone’s recent death. Nowadays, obituaries are also published online.
Obituaries are a way to celebrate and honor the life of the deceased. They typically include a brief account of the person’s life as well as information on funeral or memorial services.
Obituaries are often called “obituary notices” or “death notices.”
When an obituary notice is published in a newspaper, they are usually handled by the Classified Advertising Department because they are published as a “paid listing.” This type of obituary is usually written and paid for by the family of the deceased. Many funeral homes will assist in the creation of an obituary. Death notices, on the other hand, are usually shorter in length, may or may not be paid for by the family, and published as a legally required public notice.
Did You Ever Wonder
How does the media compile information about the death of a famous person so quickly?
Many obituaries are often pre-written as well as pre-edited video files. For example, the famous actress Elizabeth Taylor passed away in 2011. The Los Angeles Times began researching information for her obituary in 1999, and then continued to update it for the next 12 years.
What Should Be Included in a Traditional Obituary?
- Photo of the deceased
- Full name of the deceased (including nickname, middle name and maiden name if appropriate)
- Date of birth
- Place of birth
- Date of death
- Place of death
- Age at death
- List of survivors in order of birth and their place of residence if preferred: Spouse/significant other, children, siblings, parents, grandchildren, great grandchildren, other family, other friends
- Names of family members who preceded the deceased in death
- Military service
- Place of interment
- Dates, place, times and details of services
- Name of funeral home, if applicable, in charge of arrangements
- Where to call for more information
- Donations/contributions in lieu of flowers
Other Things Could Also Be Included in an Obituary?
- Reference to length of illness or cause of death
- Where deceased was raised
- Schools attended
- Degrees obtained
- Places lived
- Work history, employers
- Achievements and special recognition
- Special pets
- Hobbies and interests
- Key events
- Church/religious activity
- Significant attributes
- Favorite charities
- Favorite saying or quote
- Special "thank you" notices
Sample Ideas That Could be Included in an Obituary
Writing Your Own Obituary
Many people choose to write their own obituary before they leave this earth. Some think it’s strange. Others may think it is morbid. But, if you really think about it, who knows you better than yourself?
An Obituary Can Be Many Things in One
There really is no “right or wrong” for what should and should not be included in an obituary. An obituary is not only a notice of death, but it can also be a compilation of one’s life beautifully crafted into a keepsake or memoir for the family and generations to come. It’s also an opportunity to record the family genealogy of the deceased.
If you are the person responsible for writing an obituary, take your time. It is not an easy task to accomplish. Ask for help if needed. Proofread. Be sure that what you have printed in an obituary is accurate to the best of your knowledge.
Just a few last tips:
- Obtain a copy of the newspaper where you will be placing the obituary to get an idea of how they are formatted.
- Obituary notices can be quite expensive. If necessary, set a limit or budget for yourself.
- Take care of yourself during this difficult time.
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