How to Write an Obituary
Preparing an obituary for someone you love can be a difficult but rewarding task. Like the funeral service itself, a death notice acknowledges the loss of your loved one, expresses the pain of their loss and the joy that their presence brought.
As well, an obituary serves a practical purpose: to tell the community about the passing of your loved one, and to announce visitation, service, burial and memorial information.
To help you prepare, here are the key components to include:
Announcement of Death
Death notices usually begin with the name, age, and place of residence of the deceased, along with the time and place of death.
If you are uncomfortable sharing the cause of death, you are under no obligation to include it. However, if it was a sudden or unexpected death, putting the cause in the obituary may save you from having to repeatedly explain what happened to every relative and friend.
Each life is unique, but common milestones to consider including are: the date and place of birth, parent’s names (including mother’s maiden name), date and place of marriage, birth name of spouse, education, work, and military service. Add a few words about how the deceased enriched the lives of their family, friends and community.
An important part of the obituary is the listing of survivors and those who preceded your loved one in death. This is a section that benefits from forethought, since in the depths of grief you might omit some relatives.
Include the time, date and place of service; time, date and place of burial or interment; and time, date and place of visitation(s).
The end of a death notice is the place to specify where memorial donations may be made, or to give thanks to hospital or nursing staff. Sometimes a short prayer or a line from a poem is placed at the end.
Photos can be a pleasant reminder of the person we miss. Sometimes an old photo is used to show your loved one in their prime.