How to Write an Obituary

Writing an obituary is an opportunity to recall and memorialize various aspects of our loved one’s life and describe their connection to close family members. It may not be something you are familiar with doing, so we hope this post will help you organize your thoughts and commit them to a document.

Death Announcement

Begin with the name, age, and place of residence of the deceased, along with the time and place of death. This statement and announcement of death can be written in different ways. ‘Passed away’, ‘died’, ‘went to be with his Lord’, ‘after a long struggle with cancer’, ‘surrounded by family’, are all common variations in this statement. Use what you feel comfortable with.

Should you include the cause of death in an obituary? The cause of death is the business of the immediate family. If you do not wish to disclose the cause of death, you are under no obligation to list it in the obituary. If the circumstances of death were sudden, announcing the cause of death may prevent you from having to explain what happened many times over.

Biographical Outline for Obituary

An obituary is a recounting of important events, qualities, contributions and connections in a person’s life. Among the most important milestones are the date and place of birth, parent’s names including mother’s maiden name (ex: Bill and Barb (Maiden name) Green, date and place of marriage, birth name of spouse, education, work, and military service.

If there are many contributions made by the deceased, try to summarize them.

An obituary can be brought to life with a short expression that meaningfully describes the deceased.

Listing of Family in Obituary

One of the most important parts of an obituary is the listing of survivors and those who preceded your loved one in death. We generally list survivors first, starting with the closest relations: spouse, children, grandchildren, great and great-great grandchildren, parents, and siblings. If any of these relations are nonexistent or have died, skip and move to the next relation. Nieces, nephews, and cousins are usually left out, or simply numbered unless they were close to the deceased. Grandchildren and great grandchildren are often numbered too, and if you not sure you have all the names, use a number or say ‘many grandchildren’ to avoid leaving anyone out. List relatives with their first name, spouse’s first name in parenthesis, then surname. If the spouse’s surname is different, or the couple is not married, include the partner’s surname in the parenthesis along with their first name.

Service Time and Date in Obituary

You can leave this part up to us if we are hosting your service. We will add in the information needed.

Closing Message in Obituary

At the end of an obituary a special message is sometimes found, such as ‘in lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to…’ or ‘Special Thanks to the staff at General Hospital for…’ or ‘We will always carry your memory in our hearts’. Sometimes a short prayer or a line from a poem is placed at the end. These messages are optional but can be a way of communicating something that did not fit into the body of the obituary.

Photo for Obituary

The photo you provide should be a recent photo if possible so that readers who know the deceased will recognize the photo when they see it. A larger size file will always produce better results when viewed online. Feel free to consult with us about the photo.

We’re here to help.

We’ll guide you through the options.

We’ll answer your questions.

We’ll make suggestions based on your expectations.

We’ll never pressure you. Be comfortable in the decisions you make.