How To Write An Obituary
Obituary notices are a respectful way to announce that a loved one has passed. To assist with preparation of an obituary, the following tips may help you to organize your thoughts and create an appropriate notice. Keep in mind that notices may be any length and may include a favorite photograph of the departed.
We suggest that the best way to get started is to begin with a blank page and write down thoughts, memories, highlights and accomplishments. Note words that remind you of your loved one, such as his/her favorite music, pet or place to vacation. Sometimes it just takes noting a few things such as these that will help you to develop the content.
Many obituaries begin with a brief overview of your loved one’s life that describes his/her life experiences. To assemble this information, list the facts, such as family members, vocation, affiliations, military service and community involvement. We have put together a list of information that you may wish to include:
- Date and place (city) of birth, date and place of death
- Family survivors (spouse, parents, children)
- Religious affiliation
- Military affiliations and service
- Volunteer affiliations
- Fraternal affiliations
- Civic affiliations
- Favorite travel places
- Date, time, place of funeral, memorial service, viewing, cemetery service
Obituaries may also be used to tell the life story of your loved one by highlighting their achievements. This may include participation in a foundation or community organization, volunteering at a school, community center or hospital, or describing specific military or career achievements.
An obituary can also describe your loved one’s personal style, such as “enjoyed gardening and always greeted you with a smile.” These attributes celebrate the essence of your loved one. This is also where aspects of his/her passions may be covered – for example, your loved one may have been an equestrian, avid gardener, volunteer firefighter, tutor or painter, may have collected antique cars, or enjoyed traveling to favorite countries routinely.
It is always helpful to have friends and/or family members review the obituary content to ensure that everyone who is close to the loved one has an opportunity to contribute to this legacy notice. They might add an event or fact you may have missed.
When the obituary is completed, your funeral director or celebrant can assist you with placement in publications and newspapers. It is always helpful if you can provide them with a list of specific publications you would like to receive the notice, such as alumni publications, association/civic organization newsletters and community newspapers.
Listed below are additional examples that break the mold of the traditional obituary. These obituaries are truly memorable and reflects the life of the deceased.
Mary A. “Pink” Mullaney – We’ve all had those relatives that provide quirky little life lessons, Mary’s obituary is a reflection of all those funny life lessons and what each one of us can take from them.
Jane Catherine Lotter – Jane’s example is a wonderful self-written obituary that focuses not on countless lifelong achievements rather a thankful reflection to all of the people that shaped who she was.
Harry Stamps - Harry's obituary, written by his daughter, is a funny reflection of a man that beat to his own drum. The obituary even goes on to ask family and friends to write their congressman and ask for daylight savings time to be repealed.
Nevena Ann Topic – Nevena’s obituary is a wonderful example of an alternative obituary. This touching notice honoring her life and is a notice of a beginning and not an end.