How to write an obituary
Losing a loved one is a tragedy. Unfortunately, it’s also a part of life that all of us must deal with at some stage. While we might not live forever, a well-written obituary ensures that the memories of our loved ones will.
Obituaries serve as a touching way of letting others know about their passing, expressing your pain and remembering the joy their presence brought. Moreover, remembering their legacy through an obituary can help you cope with the grief of losing somebody close to you.
Writing an obituary for yourself, a relative or close friend can be difficult. This guide will help you write a touching, heartfelt online obituary.
Read other sample obituaries
Writing an obituary is different from writing an email or letter.
It’s a task that requires tact, grace, and dignity.
Not many of us ever have a need to write like this - it’s not unreasonable to struggle with the task, especially with a loss so fresh in your mind.
To help get started, start by looking at obituary examples for pointers.
This will give you an idea of what format or style is currently circulated and how you can personalize yours.
Details of dearly departed
An obituary is more than just a statement or a “goodbye”.
It also serves as a celebration of the life they led as well as their family, achievements, and passions.
All of this begins by stating the facts.
Your announcement identifies all the crucial details about the deceased, and can be communicated in a number of different ways.
Some prefer euphemisms and poetic language, whereas others are more matter-of-fact.
Whichever approach you take will depend on what you feel comfortable with.
Write down basic information about the deceased such as:
- Complete name
- Date of birth
- Date of passing
- Age at passing
- Place of residence
- Spouse information
Double check dates and places and make sure that spelling is correct. You can also add a bit of character with personal information such as:
- Names of children and grandchildren
- Personality traits
- Hobbies and achievements of note
Give a brief biography
They say a funeral is for the living.
Similarly, so are obituaries.
A good obituary does more than inform. It memorializes and pays tribute to the deceased, their contributions, hobbies, and life.
Each life is unique. That’s what this part of the obituary is for - give a brief biography about your loved one’s life, including:
- Major life events
- Contributions and causes
- Profession or trade
- The lives they touched
- Family and friends
- Funny habits or quirks
Remember, it’s all about memorializing your loved ones.
There’s no rule saying what can and can’t be included - include whatever you and your fellow mourners feel is relevant or are comfortable with sharing.
It’s important to note that good obituaries don’t inundate the reader with trivial details.
Instead, well-written obituaries paint a picture of what the person was like to be around, and the impact they had on those around them.
Don’t be afraid to abridge, or use a habit or phrase they were fond of to sum up their personality.
Indicate service schedules
Once all the details are complete, be sure to include any information about memorials, viewings, wakes, and other services.
You might like to consider adding the following:
- Name of the funeral home and contact number
- Place of service
- Date and time of visitation
- Any special program for the deceased
- Officiant Name (if applicable)
Once you’ve listed all those information, you can start forming them into more meaningful sentences.
Decide if you want a concise or elaborate message. Once again, what’s considered appropriate to publicly share is really up to you and your fellow mourners.
Add a special message
For a more personalized obituary, add a special message at the bottom. This can include anecdotes, thank you notes, words of encouragement, and prayer.
This is another place where you can communicate the deceased’s unique personality.
Consider including poems, quotes and special thoughts to make your obituary truly reflect your dearly departed.
And if you’re planning a public service, this is the perfect spot to make special requests.
While this last section is optional, it can be a great way of fitting in anything that wouldn’t fit elsewhere or injecting a bit of the deceased’s unique personality.