“How can the dead be truly dead when they still live in the souls of those who are left behind?” – Carson McCullers

What is an Obituary?

 Before you begin to write an obituary, let’s determine what an obituary is.

‘’An obituary is a news article that reports the recent death of a person, typically along with an account of the person’s life and information about the upcoming funeral. In large cities and larger newspapers, obituaries are written only for people considered significant.’’ – Wikipedia

Writing the Obituary

Following the loss someone close to us we can feel overwhelmed by all of the decisions that must be made. Writing an obituary could be one of them. However, the writing process can be healing itself. According to Harvard Medical School, writing while grieving can strengthen the immune system and improve wellbeing. First off, it might trigger strong emotions, like crying or feeling upset, which then can lead to a therapeutic  “letting off steam” effect.

An obituary is a great way to commemorate and remember a person’s life and legacy through words.

 A great obituary can not only record a person’s milestones and achievements but also can capture their personality by focusing on what made them special. 

Here’s a step by step guide to preparing all of the crucial elements in an obituary:

1. Content – Gather relevant information:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Birthplace
  • Date of death
  • Place of death

You can also include:

  • Close family members
  • Date, time, and address of funeral, memorial service and burial service
  • Officiating Clergy
  • Memorial contributions information (flowers, donations, condolences)
  • Photo
  • Accomplishments and awards
  • Hobbies/ Activities
  • Favourite poems, songs or quotes – Find Out More: ‘5 Beautiful Tributes For Funerals’

Remember: Check with the family what information they would like to be shared.

2. Cost –  It’s important to keep in mind the cost of publishing an obituary in print. Before you start writing obituary check prices with your local newspaper. You don’t want to write a copy which you can’t afford to publish. The price of an obituary notice depends on the individual newspaper’s rates, on the number of days the notice will run, and the length of the obituary. The average length of an obituary is about 200 words but it can be as long as 450 words or as few as 50 words.

‘’The cost of obituary notices in local newspapers range from around £50 to £300, depending on how many words are included.’’

 Tip: Ask your local newspaper advertising department if they have a free obituary listing online.

Noticeably, if you’re thinking to publish the obituary on a personal website/blog or social media account the length doesn’t matter. Often sharing something on social media can be a thoughtful way to remember someone. As a matter of fact, online obituary notices are becoming more popular. You can find some examples here: Funeral Guide Website

3. Here are some other examples of obituaries that you can find online:

  • TemplateLab – ‘’25+ Obituary Templates and Samples’’
  • TemplateNet – ’’10+ Microsoft Word Obituary Templates Free’’
  • EverLoved – ‘’Top Free Obituary Templates’’
  • It is wise to look over the conventional form used in your local newspaper and construct yours similarly.

4. Collect memorable stories – You might want to speak to close friends or family members to collect and include significant stories in an obituary. Everything from major life events to interesting and funny stories. By talking to close ones you will jog each other’s memories. See what other people remember. Don’t be shy recalling funny stories. Often those kinds of memories best represent a person’s personality. After all, it’s a celebration of life.

5. Contact your local Funeral Director –  If you still finding difficulties to get started, it might help to contact your local Funeral Director to help you write an obituary for your loved one. Your funeral director can help you to pay a fitting tribute and might be able to assist you in preparing and placing the obituary for your loved one in a timely and proper manner.

In addition to the basics, it also depends on you!

The purpose of the obituary is to acknowledge the passing of someone close to us, expressing our grief and celebrating the gifts that the person’s life brought to us. The most meaningful obituary is the one that is a well thought out and written from the heart. There’s nothing quite so moving as an obituary that truly expresses and honours the spirit of the deceased.

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