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How to Write an Obituary

Writing an obituary can feel like a heavy responsibility; while it is a difficult and often heart-wrenching task, it can also be a healing balm for your grief. Consider that the obituary does two things: notifies the public of the facts surrounding the life and death of the deceased, and shares a biographical sketch of someone you knew intimately and for whom you cared deeply. If you approach it correctly, writing an obituary can be your way of saying goodbye, while holding on to beautiful memories.

Spend Time With Memories

Remember your favorite times with the person about whom you are writing. What did you love most about them? What were things that made you laugh, that made you angry, that made you proud? Think also of what they treasured; did they have any hobbies? Did they keep a particular cause close to their heart?

Talk to Others

You are not the only person whose life and heart were touched by this person; consider reaching out to other family members and friends who might have something they would love to share. Beyond giving you inspiration for the obituary, this is a wonderful way to get to know more about your deceased loved one.

Write Everything Down

Before thinking about structure or form, throw down all of these wonderful memories and facts that you have gathered. This can be as simple as key words that strike a memory or as organized as a bulleted list.

Develop an Outline

Most obituaries adhere to a specific structure:

  • Notification and cause of death
  • Biographical sketch
  • List of surviving family members
  • Pertinent details on services to be held, charities accepting donations on the family’s behalf, etc.

Write From the Heart

Ultimately there is no “right” or “wrong” information to include. You will be most successful if you write simply and truthfully. By putting down memories, meaningful anecdotes and personal characteristics, you will be sharing a piece of your loved one with the world.

Submitting an Obituary

It is usually advised that an obituary be printed 1-2 days prior to any public service or gathering so that guests have the opportunity to make plans to attend.

We typically write the obituary for our clients, add it to our website and submit it to the appropriate newspapers.

Survivor's Checklist

Someone close to you died. What now?

Use our checklist to learn what to do in the days and weeks after a loss.