How To Write An Obituary

"For many people, their obituary may be just about the only thing that is ever written about them in their whole life and death. The obituary can be the defining statement about that person for the family, friends, and community. An obituary can be read now, and saved for generations. All the more reason to make it lively and significant."

  1. Make sure it's accurate. A death is an emotional time and it is often left to a grieving loved one to write this tribute; the obituary. However, because the details are so important to those who mourn, it is crucial that the obituary is an accurate depiction of the deceased and those they leave behind. Write it and then proofread. Set it aside and proofread again. Have a friend or family member double check. Make sure names and dates are spelled correctly, accurate, and complete.
  2. Include all the vital information. Make sure to include birth and death date. Other important facts like marriage, children, employment, community service, etc. should also be included.
  3. Avoid identity theft. This is a concern for many people when a loved one dies; that their information and identity is kept safe. Do not give out addresses and phone numbers. If you are concerned, a shorter obituary can be published in the paper. Family members can keep a longer version for their family records.
  4. Talk about a life well lived; what the deceased should be remembered for. Telling a life story is a great responsibility. Keep it positive. Pay tribute. Honor their memory. If the cost of the classified space is an issue, you can follow the suggestion above and submit a condensed version for publication, while distributing a lengthy version to friends and family. It is also appropriate to thank those who cared for and influenced the life of the deceased. Not just in recent years, but throughout their life.

"If we're lucky, an obituary will inspire the living to be good to their neighbors, strive for success and keep hope alive."
Alana Baranick, newspaper obituary writer.

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