How to Write an Obituary
Updated: Mar 19, 2019
When someone you love dies, writing the obituary may be your last thought. It can be an overwhelming task. How do you capture an entire person’s life in a few short paragraphs? Here are a few tips to help you:
1. Where to Publish
It is a good idea to decide where you will publish the obituary first before writing the obituary. Some publications may limit the number of words you can use or might require a particular format. Obituaries are often published in newspapers of the city where the person lived, died, or would be known by the community. You may also publish obituaries in the newspapers where the person went to school, worked, or volunteered.
Often times, newspapers, or the funeral home you’re working with, will publish an online obituary on Legacy.com. You can also create a memorial page on that website that gives you unlimited words and pictures. Online obituaries can reach many more people and gives readers the option to leave comments for the family.
2. Gather Basic Information
Most obituaries include the deceased person’s name, age, city of residence, date of death, city of death, date of birth, and city of birth. Many also give details about surviving family members, predeceased family members, education, employment, military service, community memberships, church memberships, awards, interests, and hobbies.
It would be important that you include any plans for a memorial or funeral service. Sometimes, you will have the date and location of the service, whether flowers should be sent, or where donations can be given. Besides the factual information, you may want to add personal information about things that were important to him/her, quotes he/she liked, or anecdotes revealing his/her personality.
3. Write the Obituary
Find out if the publication has any required formats or word limits. You may have to pay extra for longer obituaries or pictures. Looking at some of the current obituaries can give you some ideas. Then, find a quiet time to sit and write the obituary for your loved one. When you’re done, give the obituary to a trusted friend or relative to look it over. Make sure several people look at the obituary to make sure it includes all the desired information.
4. Select Photos
If the publication allows you to include photos, decide which one(s) you want to include. Many obituary photos are a clear, recent head shot. Sometimes, though, people will use a younger photo of the individual. Ultimately, you want to choose a photo that you think most people would recognize.