Memorials with Love

Guidelines for Writing a Heartfelt and Informative Obituary: Honoring Your Loved Ones with Grace

Writing an obituary can be a challenging task, especially during a time of grief and loss. It requires capturing the essence of a person’s life in a few short paragraphs.

However, with the right guidance and understanding, anyone can write a heartfelt and informative obituary that honors their loved one’s memory. In this article, we will explore the different aspects of writing an obituary, from what it is and what to include, to helpful tips and guidance.

What Is an Obituary? When someone passes away, it is common practice to publish an obituary in a newspaper or online to inform friends, family, and the community about the details of their death and celebrate their life.

An obituary is a formal announcement that provides important information such as the date and location of the person’s passing, as well as details about their life, achievements, and surviving family members. What to Include in an Obituary, What Not to Include in an Obituary

When writing an obituary, there are certain key elements that should be included.

Firstly, it is important to start with the person’s full name, followed by their date of birth and date of death. Including a photograph of the individual can also add a personal touch to the obituary.

Next, it is essential to provide a brief overview of the person’s life, highlighting their accomplishments, significant milestones, and the impact they had on others. This can include information about their education, career, hobbies, volunteer work, or any other notable activities.

It is important to strike a balance between sharing enough information to give readers a sense of the person’s life, while also respecting their privacy. Additionally, it is important to include information about the person’s surviving family members, such as their spouse, children, siblings, and grandchildren.

Providing details about any predeceased family members can also be mentioned. This helps readers understand the person’s immediate family and how they fit into the broader context of their life.

While it is important to showcase a person’s life in an obituary, there are also certain things that should be avoided. Personal conflicts or negative aspects of a person’s life should not be included, as the purpose of an obituary is to celebrate their memory and honor their legacy.

It is also crucial to respect the wishes of the deceased and their family regarding the information that is shared. How to Write an Obituary, Steps to Write an Obituary

Now that we understand what an obituary is and what to include, let us explore the steps to write one.

The first step is to gather relevant information about the person’s life, including their full name, date and place of birth, family details, educational background, career accomplishments, and other significant life events. Once you have collected this information, you can start drafting the obituary.

Begin with a concise and engaging opening sentence that captures the essence of the person’s life. You can use language that reflects their unique personality or summarize their biggest accomplishments.

Remember to maintain a respectful tone throughout the writing process. Next, expand on the opening sentence by providing more details about the person’s life.

Arrange the information in a logical and chronological order, highlighting their most important achievements and contributions. Use descriptive language to paint a vivid picture of the person’s qualities, passions, and impact on others.

After outlining the person’s life, it is time to include information about their surviving family members. Mention their spouse, children, grandchildren, siblings, and any other close relatives.

You can also include the names of any predeceased family members to provide a complete picture of the person’s family background.

Obituary Writing Tips

Writing an obituary requires careful thought and consideration to ensure it accurately reflects the person’s life. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:


Be concise: While it may be tempting to list every detail or accomplishment, it is important to keep the obituary brief and to the point. Aim for around 300 to 500 words to maintain reader interest.

2. Use a conversational tone: Instead of using overly formal language, write the obituary as if you were speaking directly to the readers.

This will make it more relatable and engaging. 3.

Seek feedback: Before finalizing the obituary, consider sharing it with family members or close friends for their input. They may have valuable insights or suggestions that can help improve the final version.

4. Proofread and edit: Ensure that the obituary is free from grammatical errors and typos.

Reread it several times or ask someone else to proofread it for you. 5.

Consider adding personal anecdotes: If appropriate, include a personal story or anecdote that captures the person’s character or showcases a memorable moment from their life. Writing an obituary may seem overwhelming, but by following these steps and tips, you can create a meaningful tribute to your loved one.

Remember, an obituary is not only a way to inform others about a person’s passing but also an opportunity to celebrate their life and legacy. Honoring their memory with a well-crafted obituary can provide comfort and closure to those who knew and loved them.

Examples of Obituaries

To provide you with a better understanding of how an obituary should be written, let’s look at a few examples. Example 1:

John Smith, beloved husband, father, and friend, passed away peacefully on December 1, 2020, at the age of 72.

Born on March 15, 1948, in Springfield, he was the son of the late Robert and Mary Smith. John was a graduate of Springfield University, where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

He had a successful career as a financial advisor and dedicated himself to helping others achieve their financial goals. In his spare time, John enjoyed playing golf, gardening, and spending quality time with his family.

He was known for his unwavering kindness, generosity, and sense of humor. He had a way of making everyone around him feel valued and loved.

John is survived by his loving wife of 50 years, Elizabeth, and their three children, Michael, Sarah, and Emily. He will also be fondly remembered by his six grandchildren, who meant the world to him.

Example 2:

Mary Johnson, a deeply cherished mother, grandmother, and friend, passed away on November 20, 2020, at the age of 85. Born on May 10, 1935, in New York City, she was the daughter of the late William and Margaret Thompson.

Mary had a genuine passion for education and obtained a Master’s degree in English Literature from New York University. She dedicated over 30 years of her life to teaching at Roosevelt High School, where she inspired countless students with her love for literature and her compassion.

In her free time, Mary enjoyed reading, painting, and exploring nature. She was known for her warm heart and willingness to lend a helping hand to those in need.

Mary’s unwavering faith and optimistic outlook on life served as an inspiration to all who knew her. Mary is survived by her devoted daughter, Jennifer, and her three grandchildren.

She will be deeply missed but forever remembered for her kindness, wisdom, and unwavering love for her family. Obituary Etiquette & FAQ

Writing an obituary involves more than just capturing the essence of a person’s life.

Here are some important etiquette considerations and frequently asked questions about obituaries. 1.

Who can write an obituary? Anyone close to the deceased can write an obituary, whether it’s a family member, a close friend, or someone with the necessary information and understanding of the person’s life.

However, it is common for immediate family members or close friends to take on this responsibility. 2.

Should I include the cause of death? Including the cause of death is a personal choice and can depend on the circumstances and family preferences.

Some families choose to mention the cause of death, while others prefer to keep it private. It’s important to respect the family’s decision and follow their wishes.

3. Can I mention charities or organizations for donations?

Yes, it is appropriate to mention charities or organizations that the family requests donations to be made to in lieu of flowers. This can be included towards the end of the obituary, along with any other specific requests from the family.

4. Can I mention a person’s religious beliefs?

Yes, mentioning a person’s religious beliefs is appropriate if it was an important aspect of their life. Including religious references, such as a memorial service or funeral details, can provide comfort to those who share the same beliefs.

5. How long should an obituary be?

Obituaries typically range from 200 to 500 words, although there is no strict word limit. It’s important to strike a balance between providing enough information about the person’s life while keeping the obituary concise and engaging.

6. Can I use humor in an obituary?

Using humor in an obituary can be a heartfelt way to celebrate a person’s life and personality. However, it is important to exercise caution and ensure that the humor is respectful and appropriate.

Remember, when writing an obituary, it is crucial to be sensitive and respectful of the family’s wishes and the memory of the deceased. Focus on capturing the essence of the person’s life, their achievements, and the impact they had on others.

Crafting a well-written and meaningful obituary can serve as a touching tribute to their memory. Writing an obituary is a significant task that requires careful consideration and thoughtfulness in honoring a loved one’s memory.

In this article, we covered various aspects of writing an obituary, including what it is and what to include, as well as valuable tips and examples. We explored the importance of capturing a person’s life in a respectful and engaging manner, while also respecting the wishes of the family and maintaining etiquette.

The key takeaway is that an obituary is a powerful tribute that not only informs others about a person’s passing but also celebrates their life and leaves a lasting memory. By following the guidelines and incorporating personal touches, we can create obituaries that truly honor our loved ones and provide comfort to those grieving.

Cherishing the memories of those we have lost is a meaningful way to pay tribute to their lives and ensure their legacies are remembered and celebrated.

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