If you have the honour of writing an obituary, then it’s going to be one of the most important pieces you’ll ever write. It’s a way to celebrate the life of someone who has passed.
(Side note: An obituary and eulogy are quite similar. An obituary is an announcement of death customarily printed in a newspaper. Whereas a eulogy is a speech usually delivered at a funeral.)
Obituaries can be a simple posting in a newspaper or a larger article, and therefore it’s good to know how many words you have to work with. After that, you need to know what information to include (or not include if you want to keep it simple and unique).
What could be included
Obituaries are essentially a public service announcement that, while becoming less vital in the world of social media, are still an important way of letting people know that someone has passed away. Here’s what is normally included. (Remember you can make it as personal as you would like 🙂)
- Full name (including any commonly used names)
- Age and place of birth
- Date of death
- Details on the death (can be optional or vague)
- Brief history
- Family and friends details
Date and information of the funeral
A brief history
Depending on how many words you have, you can think of this part as an extremely brief biography. You can include their most significant life achievements and provide an overview of the type of person they were.
If they had a particular career achievement, were a valued member of the community, or were crazy about a particular football team, you can include that here.
Family & friends
Usually, most of the family is mentioned here, especially those closest to the one who passed away. Grandparents, parents, siblings, children, aunts, uncles, cousins, and stepfamily of course. This can be tricky with family dynamics, but nieces, nephews, and spouses (who are mostly included in parenthesis) can be posted here as well.
This is the best place to add best friends or friends that are family too. While this may be the more traditional way of doing things, there is no exact ‘right way’ and you can do whatever feels right to you.
The details of the funeral are very important, so let people know the time, date, and location of the service so they can come to show their respects. If applicable, you may add the order of service and place of burial. You may want to make special announcements such as asking for charity donations instead of flowers or thanking the staff at a hospice.
Also, adding a photo may have an additional cost, but can be a nice touch. You’ll want to use a photo that is a clear headshot and perhaps a recent photo so that people can recognize them.
To summarize, the obituary can be broken down into four main segments.
- Announcement of death and personal details
- Brief biography of their life
- Surviving family and friends
Service details and any additional information
An obituary is something that you should feel proud of writing, so take your time and keep the deceased at the centre of your writing. Perhaps get another set of eyes to take a look at it as well before sending it out. We’re sure you’ll do an amazing job.
If you have questions or want to discuss anything related to end-of-life, please let us know. Our promise is to be there for you when you need us.