How to write a meaningful obituary

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After the death of a loved one, you can write your own meaningful obituary to use on social media sites or to publish in your local newspaper and / or website. This article offers a step-by-step guide to help you write a meaningful and comprehensive obituary for your loved one.

At a minimum, an obituary informs people about the fact of death and the details of the funeral, memorial service, and / or burial events. However, at best, an obituary can also provide a meaningful summary of a person's life and legacy.

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Ask other family members, friends, colleagues and / or others who knew the deceased well to help you remember events, dates, spelling of names or places, other important or interesting information, etc.

Write an obituary

After gathering the information you will need for your obituary, use a pencil and paper or a computer, whichever is most convenient for you, to list and organize the important data and information you want to include.

Key facts

Start with the full name of the deceased person, their date and place of birth, date and place of death, and their age at the time of death. Also note where the deceased lived at the time of death. If you wish, you can indicate the cause of death.

Life summary

Briefly describe the life of the deceased, beginning at birth and moving on. You don't need to include all the details; only key facts / information that helps the obituary reader learn more about the deceased and / or helps the reader determine if he or she has a personal connection to the person who passed away.

Don't worry about including too much information now, because you can always edit it later.

Family List

List relatives, living and deceased. Be sure to include grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and adoptive family members. Decide which ones to include by name and which ones by relationship only.

Obituaries typically include the full names of the deceased's parents, siblings, and children, as well as their spouse / partner, but only the total number of grandchildren or great-grandchildren.

Also, spouses / partners of children generally include only their own name in parentheses after the child's name, for example, "Jane (John) Doe's daughter survived."

Funeral or memorial details

List the details of the funeral or memorial service and the reception, if applicable. Include the name and address (and website address and / or phone number, if available) of the funeral agency handling these details and the burial / burial location, if applicable.

Donations

Please list the charitable or memorial foundations to which you would like to send donations in honor or memory of the deceased in lieu of flowers.

Checking the facts

Get the correct names. Be sure to correctly spell the name of the deceased and the name of any other family members or loved ones you include. Be sure to also include a middle name or initials, maiden name, and / or any suffixes or titles (Jr., III, MD, etc.). Have at least one person read your obituary for errors or omissions.

Board of Review

Here's an old proofreading trick: read the obituary starting at the end / last word and reading from right to left, back to the beginning. Reading backwards makes your eye / brain see each word individually, rather than being part of a group of words.

Publishing an obituary

Before writing an obituary, check with your local newspaper (s) for print / online publication requirements regarding the length of the obituary and associated costs that may affect the length of your obituary.

If you want to publish your obituary in a particular newspaper, you should review your current obituary section and note what information and formatting appears to help you better tailor your text so that it is not too long or too short. …

Obviously, if you are going to post an obituary on a personal website or on a social network like Facebook, the length doesn't matter.

Depending on the newspapers you choose, there may be an additional fee to publish a photo of the deceased.

Frequently asked questions

  • An obituary should be thoughtful and informative. If you are asked to write an obituary, be sure to include:

    • The full name of the deceased, including aliases.
    • Age of the deceased at the time of death
    • City of residence at time of death
    • Summary of the deceased's life
    • List of nearby surviving families with names
    • Memorial or funeral with address and date
    • Details of charitable or memorial donation funds

  • Each obituary is unique, and some serve as a monument on its own with a longer biography of the deceased, a photograph, and a list of non-immediate family or friends who were close to the deceased. These materials can be more expensive to post, so be sure to check ahead to see if cost is an issue.

  • Check with the decedent's spouse or family members before posting the cause of death. In some cases, the family will choose to keep it private. In such cases, you can use euphemisms like "passed away after a long illness" or "passed away suddenly", or just put nothing at all.

  • Obituaries should not be written in the first person; remember that an obituary is not a personal tribute. You also should not provide the personal address or phone number of anyone, including the deceased. Be sure to verify all details with the deceased's spouse or immediate family member before posting.

  • Obituaries typically cost between $ 200 and $ 500. The cost can increase with the length of the obituary, as well as with any add-ons (such as graphics, ad units, black and white or color photos) that you want to include.

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