Guidelines for Writing an Obituary

How To Write An Obituary

Obituaries are used to effectively encapsulate the life of a person. To give, whomever may be reading it, a sense of understanding and appreciation of the life that has been lived.

To briefly assist with writing an obituary, you may use the following guidelines as suggestions…

  • You are telling a story, start with the birth name of the person and tell about their beginning. When and where were they born and to whom. Did they have any siblings?
  • Next, you would go into their formative years. Tell where they were raised and educated. Any special/outstanding accomplishments growing up in school, or any special activities or group involvement?
  • Following their education, you would normally follow the storyline and go on to their working career and/or any military service (this can be interchanged depending on their order). When and where did they work and for how long. What other employment did they have? Which of the armed services did they join and how long did they serve? Did they achieve any special recognition during service or even upon discharge?
  • Marriage. This too can be ordered properly along their particular storyline so that it flows in order. To whom and when were they married. Where did they meet? Were any children born to this union?
  • Any special groups or affiliations. Here, you can speak about their religious affiliation or any other memberships they may have had. Any titles held or ranking would also be appropriate to mention too.
  • You may want to add some personal information here that speaks about them as a person. Just to lighten the story a bit. You can mention anything they used to like to do, or an example would be something like… “Every week she would come by to visit her grandchildren and they loved seeing her and all of the treats she would surprise them with!”
  • This part of their story would conclude with where and when they left this earth. You can also mention any predeceased, close family members too.
  • Finally, the story can conclude with the surviving family members. Start with the closest family members first, working outward. {Suggestion} Stick with naming only the close relatives. Don’t get too involved with naming every single family member’s name because the more names listed, the greater the chance a name may be missed or even misspelled. Usually the concluding statement, “and a host of other relatives and friends” covers all of the other family members that are not personally named within the obituary.

The contents of this checklist are intended to provide helpful suggestions to a family member or other survivor who has assumed the duties of concluding the affairs of a loved one/decedent. The list is not intended to be exhaustive. It is not intended to provide legal, financial, or mental health advice nor to be relied on in lieu of such services. If you have specific questions you may find it helpful to consult with a probate attorney, financial professional, or mental health professional.

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