How To Write An Obituary

An obituary has several objectives:

  • To notify friends & family of the death
  • To provide pertinent information about the deceased
  • To give specific details concerning the funeral service
  • Request memorial donations (“in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to…”)

You may find it beneficial to look at an obituary notice in your local newspaper to get a better idea of how an obituary from your area is written and presented.

Obituaries are usually written in paragraph form and chart the life of the deceased in chronological order. Here is a general guideline to help you write an obituary:

  • Provide full name, age, date of death and place of death
  • List family and any predeceased relatives
  • Include church affiliation, education, degrees received, vocation, former jobs, military service and memberships
  • You may want to include their accomplishments, great passions, other activities or important events in their life
  • Provide accurate information regarding visitation times, funeral services, memorials, mass services, etc.
  • Mention any charities or memorial funds for which you wish people to make donations

You might also want to mention any people or groups that you wish to thank publicly for care given to the deceased. You could also include special poems or prayers. Include an invitation to sign any on-line memorials you have posted with a web address.

Other notes:

  • Time the publication of the obituary so that it runs a few days prior to the memorial service
  • Obituaries can be written at the time of death or before. Some find it helpful to write their own notice
  • Some people find they can save money by placing a shorter obituary notice in the paper and use the eulogy for the longer version of the deceased’s life
  • Clip copies of the obituary to send to out-of-town friends and family
  • Call the newspaper to check for restrictions and ask about obituary prices. Most newspapers charge by the word, so keep it brief if money is an issue
  • Consider sending the obituary to newspapers in other cities where the deceased have formerly lived
  • If you prefer, ask the funeral home to make arrangements for the publication of the obituary
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