What is the Difference Between an Obituary and a Death Notice?

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The terms “obituary” and “death notice” are often used interchangeably. However, it is important for a person to understand the differences between the two so that they can properly communicate with friends and loved ones and at the same time honor their loved one. Although obituaries and death notices both announce to the public that a person is deceased, they vary significantly in the following areas:

Personal Details A death notice will usually include only the details that are necessary to announce someone’s passing and provide information regarding the arrangements that have been made for a funeral or memorial service. A person’s name, age and the date and location of the funeral may be all that is listed. Obituaries, on the other hand, typically include a biographical sketch of the person that may include the same information listed in a death note along with the names of their family members, achievements and other personal details.

Length Due to the vast amount of information that is included in an obituary, they are typically several paragraphs long. In some instances, obituaries have filled an entire newspaper page. On the other hand, death notices are usually only a few lines long and may be published in a manner similar to a classified advertisement.

Authorship Due to the brevity of a death notice, one is typically written by the funeral home and submitted to local news media sources to provide information about a person’s funeral arrangements. According to the Cleveland Public Library, a family may choose to write their own obituary, or they may select an author to write a moving tribute for their loved one’s life. Often, several family members will work together on an obituary to make sure it includes all of the details needed to bring honor to their loved one.

When deciding which types of listings to publish, a person must consider the purpose of their announcement. While a death notice will announce the details regarding funeral arrangements and memorials, an obituary can serve as a lasting record of a person’s achievements. By understanding the differences between these two important documents, one can proceed with their arrangements while ensuring their loved one’s life is honored through an appropriate announcement.