How To Write An Obituary

How To Write An Obituary

Writing a good obituary in honor of the deceased and their family

A step by step guide on how to write an obituary

My brother Michael Lee Smalley passed away back in September of this year. I was unable to attend his memorial service after his cremation and couldn’t find an obituary. Looking back I wish I could have gone, but it was impossible.

It shocked me that no one in my family wrote an obituary for him. Unfortunately, the same thing happened when my mom passed away. An obituary is a way to honor the deceased and help others remember their loved one.

In the computer age, it’s inexcusable not to create some memorial for the deceased even if it’s online. That’s why I am writing this article so others can have something to remember their loved one by.

What you should know before you start

Creating a proper obituary for the deceased loved one is something which requires a lot of thought and care. Just like a funeral and obituary acknowledges the loss of a loved one and the pain loved ones feel.

You should attempt to get feedback and information from close family members and friends. Before you begin, there are a few critical pieces of information you will need to gather. The first middle and last name of the deceased. The date of their birth and death. The name of any immediate family members left behind. Most importantly you will need to find and pass along the visitation time, service, burial, and memorial information.

A proper obituary will contain significant events and accomplishments of the deceased. Try to include any way they may have impacted the world or people around them. You should also seek out photographs of the dead and have others help you pick the best one.

Common mistakes

Unfortunately, the obituaries we see online and in newspapers these days are terrible. They don’t honor the deceased or convey who they were when they were alive. That’s because when we craft an obituary,  it’s usually hastily written while you’re still grieving. Also, many people feel rushed to get the obituary out there the next day and worry about newspaper deadlines. So instead of something that honors the deceased, it becomes just a bunch of words strung together announcing where services will be.

I certainly hope you never have to experience the loss of a loved one. However, if you do, this article will help. It’s essential to craft an obituary which will allow other people to determine if they know the person who passed away.

Some newspapers and online websites have different formats they require for obituaries. When you contact them, they will understand your situation and guide you through the process. These days most obituaries are an abbreviated version in the print newspaper and a detailed one on the funeral homes website.

To properly prepare an obituary for your local paper you should take the time to look at other ones in your local newspaper. Use the same style of writing and organize your obituary clearly and be sure to include all pertinent information.

When in doubt your funeral home or cemetery will assist. They have all the relevant information for your specific plans and event locations. Doing this will allow you to create an obituary for the recently departed promptly.

A complete obituary step-by-step guide

1) Announcing the death

To do this, you need to gather the name, age, place of residence, and time and place of their death. There are many words you can use in your announcement to communicate the passing of the deceased. Some examples are ‘died’passed away’went to be with the Lord’or’surrounded by their family.’ All of these are common and acceptable ways to convey a death announcement. Many people believe the word died is just too blunt and seems cold and uncaring. However, you can use whatever term you feel that makes you feel comfortable.

2) Create a short biographical sketch

You have to remember an obituary is not a biography of the deceased, so a sketch of their life is key. The post needs to include important events, qualities, contributions and connections they’ve made. Everyone’s life is unique, but the essential information you need to include:

  1. Date and place of birth.
  2. Parents names don’t forget to include their mother’s maiden name.
  3. If they were married the date and location of marriage and spouse’s name.
  4. Education history, work history and any military service they may have done.

Don’t forget an obituary isn’t a legal document so you can add whatever information you want. For example, if you fill a stepparent should be listed as the parent then go ahead and place them in there instead of the biological parent’s name.

Extra Information About What To Include

Most commonly events are listed chronologically however you may put eventually feel are more important first, such as putting their marriage or loved ones left behind before any accomplishments or education.

Always be sure to list any accomplishments but if there are too many to choose from select the ones you think they would be most proud.

In some cases when a person knows they are dying they often prepare their obituary. However, doing that is a little creepy and usually neglects to discuss their impact with loved ones or the community. A well-written obituary is like a beautiful piece of art painted with exquisite details and expressing love.

3) Family

Funerals and obituaries are for the living and most importantly this the survivors of the deceased. Unfortunately, this is a section some people hastily put together. You must be careful because it can be very painful if an important loved one such as a stepchild is not included.

Larger cities usually work standardized clichés when it comes to loved ones because of the expense. These can vary from …Loving father of… Beloved son. Many times there are no special sections to mention all of the survivors.

Smaller newspapers and websites, however, tend to list all of the survivors first. From spouse, parents, children, and even grandchildren because the space for the obituary isn’t as limited.

4) Service Times

It’s unfortunate but sometimes because we rush to complete the required information we forget to add when services will be held. It’s best to leave this part to the funeral director since they do have all of the essential information.

  • Essential information:
  • Time of Service
  • Full Date of Service
  • Location of The Funeral Service
  • The Name of Whoever Is Officiating the Funeral
  • If Visitations Are Allowed Also Remember to Include the Full Date Time and Location Of Visitations
  • Time and Place of Burial

Any Special Messages or Requests from the Deceased Family

When you reach the end of the obituary occasionally, there may be a special message or request from the deceased or their family. Usually, they are such things as instead of flowers, donations may be made to, or you will never forgo ton. Often this is used when we can’t insert information into the obituary without looking out of place

6) Photos of the Deceased

Placing photos into an obituary can significantly add to its cost. However, many people find it to be a pleasant reminder of the person who passed away. Photographs will also allow people who may not have heard of the passing to recognize the person they know. Try to make it a recent photo where the person who is no longer with you seems to be living a happy moment.

You can think of an obituary as a miniature funeral that forever commemorates your loved one. Just like funeral and obituary brings family members together. Often time this leads to the exchange of stories about moments in your loved one’s life.

Last words and comforting tips

An obituary does not have to run in a major newspaper or even be inches long. The best ones are ones that are thought out and come from the heart of someone who is still here. It should be informative, express the memory of whoever passed and be easy to read.

While I wish you and your loved ones a long and prosperous life, it’s a fact that death comes for us all. I suggest bookmarking this post just in case you ever need to refer to it in the future. Thank you for reading, and if you have recently lost someone, I am sorry for your loss.

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