How to write an obituary

Writing an Obituary

How To Write An Obituary

Writing an obituary can be one of the most difficult parts of handling final arrangements. Putting a person’s entire life’s work and being into several lines requires careful thought and planning. The finished product should be a summary of what made the deceased person unique, and it will be one of the few records left online or on paper to commemorate that person’s life in the future. The following steps cover the entire process.

Call for price quotes. Fortunately, obituaries can be published online for free. When planning to publish one in a newspaper also, plan to spend some money. Every newspaper has its own pricing structure, which is typically based on the number of lines you use. Newspapers use different sizes and types of font, and some make their obituary columns very narrow, so be sure to ask how many characters fit on each line.

Focus on major life points and character. Since virtual obituary space is free online, plan to write the extended version online and a shorter version for the newspaper. When compiling a list of these points, it is important to think what the deceased would want. What was he or she proud of? Think about the stories this person told you many times or reflected upon with pride. If you hit a roadblock or aren’t sure about some of these points, don’t be afraid to ask another close friend or relative of the deceased for help.

Make an outline. Most people want to fit as much information as possible into the limited number of lines they have to work with for newspapers. To do this, make sure sentences are concise. Make use of adjectives when describing the person to minimize character use. For example, you could refer to a person who was both generous and an entrepreneur as a generous entrepreneur instead of making two separate sentences reflecting these points. Try to even out a timeline of life events and accomplishments for some balance. When writing an online obituary, feel free to include a few more details.

Decide which survivors to include. This can be a delicate issue for many families, and this is especially true if there are stepchildren or stepparents. If the deceased had a large family, some members may feel insulted or hurt if their names are not included. When space is an issue for a person with many life accomplishments and events, it may be better to list only the surviving children’s names. If the person had too many survivors to list in a newspaper obituary, it is best to only list the number of children, siblings, grandchildren and parents. When publishing online, feel free to name the entire family. There are no set rules on who should be listed by name or number.

Review our sample online obituary and outline form. We have posted a sample obituary to help you with the writing process – Click here. Also, you may find our obituary outline form helpful – click here.

Look over the final draft carefully. Make sure every person’s name is spelled correctly, and review the obituary for grammar and punctuation errors. When it is complete, send it in to be published.

Before you begin to write, we suggest you gather the following:

Decedent’s full name as you would like it to be published
Decedent’s maiden name
Date of birth
Date of death
US Veteran status
Photo of the decedent that can be uploaded from your computer (formats: jpg, png or jpeg)
Funeral date, place and time
Name and address of where services will be held

Remember, your online tribute can be as long or short, as detailed or simple as you’d like.