An obituary is a notice of death, traditionally published in a newspaper. Today, many obituaries are published online in addition to (or instead of) in print, but the content is largely the same. A good obituary shares details of the deceased’s life and captures who they were as a person. Writing one can feel difficult, especially during a time of grief. If you are struggling with how to write a meaningful obituary for your deceased loved one, here are a few guidelines to help you get started.
Gather the Basic Facts
Some, if not all, obituaries begin with a basic biography. Important details to note about the deceased include:
- Full name (including maiden name, if applicable)
- Date and place of birth
- Date and place of death
- Surviving relatives
Whether to include cause of death is a personal choice. It’s a good idea to discuss this with other family members of the deceased before including it in the obituary.
Next, when writing an obituary, many people include relevant personal details such as schools attended, community involvement, church affiliations and any awards the deceased won during their lifetime.
Finally, you should include any details for the funeral or memorial service. It’s also helpful to include information about where to send flowers or make a charitable donation.
Decide on a Tone
Now that you have gathered all the relevant information, it’s time to decide on the tone for the obituary. Some obituaries are very serious and to the point. Others are full of wit, humor and personal anecdotes. When deciding on the right tone to use, consider the circumstances of death and the wishes of the rest of the family.
Many people struggle with how bluntly to refer to death itself. This is another personal choice, as there is no right or wrong answer. While it’s perfectly acceptable to write, “Mrs. Jane Doe died on January 1, 2021,” it’s also perfectly OK to use gentler phrasing such as “passed away” or “went to be with the Lord.” Obituaries are very personal, which is why they are not one-size-fits-all.
If you are feeling stuck, ask yourself this: How would the deceased themselves want to be remembered? If he or she delighted in humor throughout their life, including humor might be a lovely way to remember them.
While it’s not necessary to include personal anecdotes, many people choose to include them. Reflect on and write down your most meaningful memories and conversations with the deceased. Ask family and friends to share what immediately comes to mind when they think about him or her. Gathering these details can really paint a picture about the deceased that a simple biography can’t capture.
Adding the Final Details
Once you are satisfied with the obituary you have written, be sure to get at least one other set of eyes to read it. Having other friends and family read what you’ve written is a good way to check all the important facts for accuracy. They can also note any grammar or spelling errors.
Reflect on whether the obituary you have written allows the personality of the deceased to shine through. Do not worry if it doesn’t follow a specific formula. At the end of the day, you want anyone who is reading the obituary to feel like they truly know the deceased as a person. In many ways, you are writing a piece of history.
Chances are, the obituary won’t just be seen by friends, family and community members in the present. Loved ones will preserve and pass it down down for generations to come. Writing an obituary is a beautiful chance to tell someone’s story in a way that will be remembered and treasured forever.
If you are in the process of writing an obituary and feel overwhelmed, reach out to Bevis Funeral Home today. Our expert funeral directors can help guide you through the process of writing a meaningful obituary and preserving the memory of your loved one, as well as making other important arrangements. Click here or give us a call at (850) 385-2193 to speak to a compassionate funeral director today.