Moving, Memorable Words: How to Write an Obituary for a Loved One

Monday, May 1, 2023

The first obituaries were published in 50 BC in Rome. Since then, people have been memorializing their loved ones in some way or another through writing. Is it your job to write an obituary for a loved one?

This is a big job, but you can do it. We're here to help. Read on to learn a few quick tips that can help you write an obituary you're proud of. 

Gather the Right Details

While obituaries can be deeply personal, they're also factual. Obituaries give details about the deceased for other people in the community to read. A meaningful obituary should still be informative. 

Make sure you know your loved one's full name (as well as the correct spelling) and their age. Get as much information about their family and life as possible. Talk to as many people as possible to gather enough information. 

You don't need to discuss how your loved one passed or give any personal details, but you do need to announce the death accurately. Make sure you know when your loved one passed away. 

Summarize Their Life 

Any good and memorable obituary will include a summary of the subject's life. Again, you needn't go into explicit detail, but try to provide enough information to make the obituary pop. Consider checking out other obituary examples for inspiration.

What are the most notable things about your loved one? What did they accomplish? What surviving family members do they have? 

This information should be as factual as possible, and remember to keep it positive. 

Discuss Their Impact

This is where you can start using some more figurative and creative language in the obituary. Take a moment to discuss the impact that your loved one had on you and everyone else they encountered. You can include brief anecdotes if you feel that it's appropriate to do so. 

This is another time in which it's helpful to discuss your loved one with others. You want to know how they impacted others so you can truly write a well-rounded obituary. 

Give Memorial and Donation Information 

Many people read obituaries to get information about funeral services and donations. Make sure you include this information so you don't have to field questions from people who are looking for it. 

If there will be a ceremony of some kind, include the correct date, time, and location. If the ceremony is private, you can omit this information to avoid unwanted guests.

You can also include donation information. Perhaps the family is accepting donations of money, food, or flowers, or the deceased requested donations to a specific charity. Either way, this is the appropriate place to put that information. 

Don't Forget to Edit 

As with any writing project, you don't want to skip the editing phase. You want to proofread the obituary for writing errors as well as potential factual errors. It's also helpful to have another person read over it for you. 

Take a day away from it after writing so you can approach it with fresh eyes. You're more likely to catch mistakes that way.

Are You Ready to Write an Obituary? 

Writing an obituary is challenging, but you're lucky you've been given that task! It shows that your loved ones have faith in your ability to honor the deceased. These tips can help you write an obituary that would make your deceased loved one happy. 

At Schumacher & Benner, we offer a variety of funeral-related services, including help with obituaries. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you today. 

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