Although it may seem like a daunting task, writing an obituary can be a healing experience for the deceased’s loved ones. For many people, writing an obituary is one of the most important tasks they can undertake during the mourning process, but for those who have never written one, knowing where to start can be challenging.
This blog post will provide some tips on writing an obituary that celebrates your loved one’s life. It will also offer some advice on how to deal with common challenges that arise during the writing process. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by grief and are looking for guidance on honoring your loved one’s memory, keep reading!
First, what is an obituary, and what it’s for?
An obituary is a notice of death. This notice is typically published in a newspaper and used in a service program. The obituary consists of a brief biography of your loved person. The purpose of an obituary is to notify family and the public of an individual’s passing, in addition to relaying the details of the services.
Step 1: Gather Information
You can gather information by speaking with family and close friends or looking through old photographs and other mementos. Try to get a sense of who the person was, what they loved, and what they will be remembered for.
Some common elements that are included in an obituary are:
- The Basics: Include your loved one’s full name, date and place of birth, date and location of death, and age of the deceased.
- Family: Mention the surviving spouse, children, parents, siblings, and other relatives. You can also mention predeceased family members.
- Education: List the schools the person attended and any degrees or professional credentials they earned.
- Work-life: Give details about the person’s career, including notable positions and achievements.
- Interesting Facts: Share any unique hobbies, interests, or talents the deceased had.
- Memberships: List any clubs, organizations, or teams the person belonged to.
- Important Milestones: Include accomplishments and recognitions
- Services: Give information about the funeral or memorial services, such as the date, time, and location.
- Interment: Mention if the person will be buried or cremated and where the burial site will be located.
Step 2: Write the Obituary
You are ready to start writing once you have gathered all the necessary information. Then follow these:
- First paragraph: Is brief state of your loved one’s full name, date and place of birth, and date and place of death is called the death notice. Writing an elaborate first paragraph may be tempting, but it is best to keep it simple. Friends and relatives want to know this information immediately.
- Body of the Obituary: The following paragraphs usually follow in chronological order with a description of your loved one’s education, employment history, military service, hobbies, and interests. Also, highlight key points in their life. For example, marriages, births, awards, and/or accomplishments.
- Last Paragraphs: Obituaries usually close with a list of surviving and predeceased family members, but it is not required. This is usually not found in a newspaper article and is often included in the service program.
- For newspapers and databases: Provide details about the funeral service, such as date, time, and location. And include information on how to make donations in lieu of flowers, if desired.
Step 3: Editing
After writing the obituary, take a break and carefully review it for errors. Have it proofread by someone else to ensure everything is accurate and error-free. Here are my favorite editing tips:
- Grammarly: My favorite grammar detection tool is Grammarly. I have been using it for years.
- Write in the 3rd person: Obituaries are written in the third person, which means it is about the person who died, not about the writer, so do not include personal mentions. Write it as if you were a bystander, telling people what happened.
- Watch spacing: Always double-check for spacing, especially in printed funeral programs.
- Watch your tenses: It’s easy to slip back and forth between present and past tense writing obituaries.
- Four letter words: I have found removing This, That, Just, and Got dramatically improves the clarity of the obituary
Step 4: Show Family
Before publishing the obituary, it is important to have it reviewed by the deceased’s family to ensure that they are happy with what you have written and that there are no errors.
Tips For Writing An Obituary
An obituary is a way to honor and remember a loved one who has passed away. Here are a few tips to help you write an obituary:
- Be concise. It can be tempting to write up a loved one’s entire life, but an obituary should only contain the most important facts and events in their life. For example, the birth of children, career awards and advancements, and anything else your loved one was proud of accomplishing.
- Write in the third person. Even if you knew the deceased well, an obituary should be written from a third-person point of view.
- Personalize it: Include your loved one’s most quotable moments or a favorite saying/meal to help capture their spirit.
- Remember the tone: Keep the tone respectful and positive.
- Use simple language. Language should be straightforward and easy to understand. Everyone is very emotional. It will help portray a clearer picture of your loved one’s life.
- Re-check carefully. After writing the obituary. Take a break and then carefully review it for errors. Have it proofread by someone else to ensure everything is accurate and error-free.
- Read the obituary out loud. Hearing what you have written out loud will help you recognize grammatical errors.
Common Mistakes To Avoid When Writing An Obituary
One of the most challenging things to write is an obituary. It is because you are writing about someone who will never return. It is important to remember that an obituary is not just for the person who has passed away but also for their loved ones. It should celebrate their life, not a reminder of their death. With this in mind, here are some common mistakes to avoid when writing an obituary:
- Don’t focus on the death: Focus on your loved one’s life. It’s important to remember the good times as well as the bad.
- Don’t be afraid to show emotion: An obituary is a very emotional piece of writing, and it is okay to show this emotion. You are allowed to grieve in your writing, which can be a cathartic experience.
- Don’t forget the details: Include their full name, date of birth, date of death, and any other relevant information in the obituary. It will provide a more complete record.
- Please don’t make it too long: An obituary should be brief and to the point. It is not necessary to include every single detail of the person’s life. Instead, have the essentials and leave it at that.
By following these simple tips, you can create a tribute that celebrates the life of your departed friend or family member. As with any writing, it’s important to avoid common mistakes when composing an obituary, and we’ve included which errors you have to look for. So take a deep breath and get started – the sooner you begin, the more time you will have to perfect your tribute.