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How to Write an Obituary

To write an obituary is to say a final public goodbye to a loved one. There are several ways to write an obituary, from a traditional format to the more contemporary freeform style. Learn how to write an obituary that will honor your loved one by reviewing the sections below. No matter where your obituary will be published, whether online, in a newspaper or in a funeral program, it is important to keep a few considerations in mind. Popular methods for writing obituaries include planning ahead and beginning to draft an obituary for yourself or for a loved one in advance. If you need to write one in a short amount of time, take a moment to review all the suggestions below, or learn even more in our step-by-step guide.

How to Write an Obituary

If you want to know how to write an obituary, the first step is to decide what style of obituary you want to write. You can write a traditional obituary for the local or regional newspaper by following a basic, universally accepted outline. Newspaper obituaries are allotted a certain amount of space to fit within the column, so there is typically no extra room for detail or long anecdotes.

One of the most popular ways to write an obituary today is to publish online, in addition to publishing one in a local print newspaper. To write an obituary for any medium, you can follow step-by-step instructions or look at multiple obituary samples. Essentially, it is important to write these pieces with all valid personal details about the deceased, to mention surviving family members, highlight life accomplishments and then offer details about any services. The exact details may differ depending upon the medium and the deceased. When writing an obituary, there are also considerations on what kind of information to exclude.

Many obituary samples highlight the person’s character and personality more than a traditional obituary tends to do. For help writing an obituary, feel free to include personal insights and quirks to adequately pay tribute to the deceased, keeping in mind that you may have limited space available depending on your medium of publication. If you write a piece for online publication, you will typically have more space. Writing an obituary for a funeral program offers the same extended space. When you write an obituary, check for instructions provided by the local or regional newspaper. This may help you organize your thoughts. When writing obituaries, it may also be useful to simply follow step-by-step instructions, as these will allow you to focus on the content of your piece rather than its organization.

How to Write an Obituary for a Parent

If you are writing an obituary for a mother or an obituary for a father, the emotional context can exceed the traditional obituary. When you write a piece for a parent, you have a unique perspective on his or her life. Be sure to share your own perspective and to share the highlights of your parent’s life.

When you write an obituary, you might also want to consult others in your mother or father’s life who could contribute something unique. The best ways to write an obituary include adding different perspectives to reveal different aspect of a person’s character. When you write an obituary for a parent, you could consider reaching out to coworkers, friends from childhood, and other family members to highlight parts of your parent’s life that you might not be familiar with from your own perspective.

To write an obituary for a child, you may also want to consult other family members and friends when compiling stories and insights into a piece for the newspaper, for online or for the funeral program.

How to Write an Obituary for a Funeral Program

To learn how to write an obituary for a funeral program, review at our in-depth guide for full details. When you write obituaries for funeral programs, you typically have more space than when writing for a print publication like a newspaper. This allows you to include more information in your tribute to the deceased. In a funeral program obituary, you can include photos that might accompany a specific story or anecdote. Perhaps you can better highlight the nature of the deceased with quotes from friends and family, which could easily be included in the obituary.

Before you write the obituary for a funeral program, communicate with the funeral home to inquire about their preferred or recommended procedures for creating a funeral program.

Learn About Self-Written Obituaries

More recently, self-written obituaries have become popular. When considering ways to write an obituary, many have turned introspective, choosing to write an autobiographical obituary. While even self-written obituaries can follow the traditional format as indicated above, more often they take on a new form of storytelling. If you want to write your own obituary as a senior, you could start drafting one at any time.

In a self-written senior obituary, you can choose to highlight the important facts and the important people in your life. You can share your personality in a final public goodbye and as a thank you to all those who impacted your life. While some people try not to think about the inevitable future, others find it almost therapeutic to take control over their end of life arrangements – including writing their own obituaries.