Writing a Touching Obituary: How to Get Your Thoughts and Feelings on “Paper”

Follow Me on Google+

An obituary reports the death of a person, but also typically describes the person's life and interests and gives details about the funeral. Obituaries take many different forms, depending on those doing the writing and the venues in which they are published. Some are notices written on templates supplied by funeral homes (these are typically referred to as “death notices”). Others are written by staff writers of major publications. Many still, however, are written by relatives or friends of the deceased as celebrations of the loved one's life as well as a heartfelt farewell. Here are some tips on how to write a touching, memorable obituary.

Style and Length

The length of an obituary is somewhat determined by the venue in which it appears. Physical newspaper length is based upon column inches and is usually limited. However, here at ObitsDaily.com we offer unlimited space in which you can not only include a lengthy written obituary but also supplement it with other media.

If you want the obituary to touch the hearts of the readers, avoid a dry recitation of information; rather, try to write it as a story with yourself as the narrator. Find a quiet place so you can contemplate the life you are eulogizing. Imagine an audience of readers to whom you want to impart not only the details but the essence of the life about which you are sharing. If you are space-limited then you can edit it later, but it is important at first to write from the heart. Try to avoid clichés in your writing, and be sure to emphasize the deceased's life and not their death.

What to Include

Because of the nature of an obituary, there is some information which is obligatory. This includes the name, age and hometown of the deceased, their date and place of birth, and date and place of death.

It is also customary to list details of the date and location of the funeral or other service. You would also probably include background details such as surviving family members, close family members who are already deceased, and the basics about the deceased's education, military service, career, awards won, and special hobbies and interests.

However, to create a truly touching obituary, consider what made this person special. Recount anecdotes from the person's life that exemplify unique attributes. Some of these examples would come from your own memories, but you can also ask other people who knew the deceased well for contributions. It also adds depth to the obituary to include any remembered quotes or stories of the deceased's beliefs or philosophy. If the obituary is online, you can include a collage of photos and even a few videos, if you have them available.

Benefits of Writing an Obituary

In grief, many people shut themselves off from memories of loved ones. However, writing an obituary helps you remember the deceased in a positive way. Recalling and celebrating a person's life in prose helps you cope with their passing. It also reminds others of the significance of the deceased's life.

Writing the obituary of a loved one is a positive, therapeutic step to take that benefits you and others. For more detailed obituary writing suggestions, visit our helpful resources page.