When a loved one passes away, it is customary to publish a written announcement of their death, known as an obituary or a funeral notice.
For those who have never written funeral notices, knowing what exactly to write can be difficult, especially if you want to make this notice meaningful and personal in remembrance of the deceased.
As an obituary is the last significant public piece of memory they will have, it should be worthy of the person you are trying to honor.
Here is everything that should be included in an obituary and how you can make it worthy of your loved one and their memory.
What is the purpose of an obituary?
Funeral notices are more than just a simple goodbye to the deceased; they typically describe the life and personality of the person who has died.
There is no legal requirement to publish an obituary when someone dies, but funeral notices are a way to share the news of death with friends, family, and the local community. It also notifies them of the details of the upcoming funeral or memorial service.
These notices are typically published in newspapers and online memorial pages, but can even be shared on social media. Your funeral home can help you with anything that you are unsure about and can assist you in getting the newspaper funeral notice published.
What should you include?
These are all the aspects you should cover when writing an obituary:
To begin the obituary, you can start with some of the basic information about your loved one, which often includes their full name, age, date of death, and place of death.
Be sure not to add in too many more details about the deceased, as this can occasionally lead to identity fraud scams.
You can also add in the cause of death, if you are uncomfortable with doing so, or you can choose to omit this piece of information.
It is also common to add in an obituary photo, which should be a clear headshot of the deceased. Try to choose a picture that you think they would have been happy with.
Every life story is unique and this should be reflected in their obituary.
You should recount the significant events in the life of the deceased, which can include some of their major achievements in life, the schools they attended, the degrees they attained, their interests and hobbies, along with any contributions to the community.
Newspapers often charge you for funeral notices by the word, so you might have to set yourself a word limit depending on your budget.
Survivors and predeceased information
It is customary to include family members who have survived the deceased, along with immediate family members who predeceased them.
This can include:
- A spouse/partner
- Children or stepchildren
- Siblings, half or step-siblings
- Surviving in-laws
These surviving relatives can be listed by name. If there are too many to mention, they can instead be referred to in terms of their relationship with the deceased. For example, the deceased leaves behind five grandchildren.
The obituary should provide the details of the scheduled funeral service, including the time, date, and address. This may further include other details of the funeral, visitations, burial, or memorial service.
This is especially useful for people the family may not have known to invite so that they can also attend the funeral and pay their respects to the deceased.
If a reception is to take place following the service, it is recommended that you omit that fact, as this can result in unwanted guests who are not part of the service attending a gathering you want to keep intimate.
If you are dedicating any memorial donations in honor of your loved one, you can add in the name and mailing address of a foundation or charity.
You can decide which foundation or charity to support based on the values of the deceased or perhaps based on a medical condition that they suffered from.
Some people choose to include a special message at the end of the obituary, as this can be a great way of remembering a loved one. This can be a short prayer or a funeral poem, but it is completely up to you.
Once you have written up the obituary, the information in it should be verified by another family member. This includes confirmation of the dates, the people mentioned, the spelling of their names, and the details of the upcoming funeral services.
Finally, you should determine which newspapers you want to publish the obituary in. You can get the assistance of your funeral home to get newspaper funeral notices published.
Write funeral notices that are as unique as your loved one
At the end of the day, it is all about representing the deceased and how they would want to be seen.
So ensure that you are producing an obituary that has all the required details while also appropriately commemorating the life of the deceased.