Dealing with the loss of a loved one is extremely difficult, compounded by the number of tasks that need to be completed. To help you in your time of mourning, here is a step-by-step guide to how to write an obituary.
Step 1: Death Announcement
This contains the factual information about your loved one including their full name, age, where they lived and the time and place of their death. Including a cause of death can be included here; however, some people are uncomfortable including this information, and it certainly is not necessary when writing an obituary.
Step 2: Biography or Life Story
Here is where you include something about your loved one’s life. You don’t want to tell their entire life story but include the highlights, the moments that are memorable to you and others who knew the deceased. This is the portion of the obituary where you should express the deceased’s unique personality.
Step 3: Include Family Members
Most obituaries include names of key family members. It can be difficult to decide which members to include. As a rule of thumb, include those who were most important to the deceased and not the most important to you. When writing the obituary, list the relatives by their first name, followed by their spouse’s first name in parenthesis, and concluding with the last name. If the list is long, consider putting down family members in groups such as ‘survived by 8 grandchildren’.
Step 4: Funeral/Memorial Service Times
Include the date, time, and location of the service(s). Also, include the name of funeral home for those wishing to send flowers. If you do not know this information when writing the obituary, include a comment about information regarding the service will follow later. Do not forget to pass along the information after you receive it.
Step 5: Charity Information
Families often wish to have donations made to a certain charity in lieu of flowers. This is the place to include this information, listing the specific charity and an address or website to which the funds can be directed.
Step 6: Photo
Photos are a typically an additional cost so many families decide not to include one in the obituary. That is completely acceptable. If you decide to add a photo, choose one that means something to you; it can be a recent photo or one showing the deceased in their youth.
Step 7: Proofread
Take the time to carefully proofread after finishing writing the obituary. In fact, it is recommended you proofread it more than once and then have someone else proofread it as well.
How to Write an Obituary Overview
These seven steps cover the typical elements of an obituary. Remember the deceased’s personality and try to infuse some of that within the piece. If they were known for their sense of humour, then including humour when writing the obituary is an excellent idea. Use any style or information that will remind others of your loved one’s personality and express your true thoughts.