How to Write Family and Friends Funeral Home Obituaries
An obituary is an important document that notifies family and close friends of someone’s death and provides details regarding funeral or memorial service arrangements. It should be written as soon as possible after their passing to inform people.
Writing your obituary ahead of time gives you the power to determine how you want to be remembered while sparing loved ones from having to make hard choices in times of grief.
The Obituary’s Format
As you write an obituary for someone dear, remember that what you write will serve as their final farewell. Be honest yet respectful when conveying their life story – an obituary can highlight their qualities, accomplishments, and contributions beyond traditional facts of death.
Start your obituary by providing basic details of your loved one, such as their name, age, hometown, and date/place of death. Also, include any necessary information about how the end happened (sudden or extended illness).
Once the biographical section of your obituary is written, begin writing its biographical section, which should be the longest part. Here you’ll provide an anecdotal account of their life using anecdotes and memories to bring their character alive for others. Be sure to include important information like career details, hobbies, favorite pastimes, and personal touches that reflect their life – such as pets owned, books read or movies watched, and sports teams supported; military service commitments or volunteer activities could also be mentioned.
After an obituary, family and friends should be listed. These should be listed in order of closest relationships to the deceased – starting with spouses, children, grandchildren (if multiples listed), parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, and in-laws (along with any honorary family such as teachers, mentors or coworkers). Including honorary families such as teachers, mentors, or coworkers as surviving relatives may also be beneficial.
Once an obituary is written, it should be thoroughly proofread before being given to a newspaper for publishing. A friend or family member may help spot errors in spelling and grammar that you may overlook yourself.
If a newspaper wishes to publish an obituary, it is vital that its wording be accurate and free from mistakes. Erroneous entries can embarrass family members and decrease attendance at services; as a result, editors and proofreaders should edit and proofread an obituary before submission to a newspaper.
An obituary should begin by noting the person’s name and age before offering a short biography of their life, including notable accomplishments, interests, hobbies, final years summary, and possible causes of death (this step may or may not be required). Furthermore, funeral home contact information, dates/times for services, and any relevant details should also be included within an obituary.
Most obituaries are written by the family or close friends of the deceased since such writers will possess an intimate knowledge of them and can share personal details with readers. Sometimes, the dead will write or delegate this task while making end-of-life plans.
As a matter of discretion, obituaries do not typically include personal addresses or phone numbers; however, relatives’ names can be included. It’s also best to avoid writing the obituary in the first person language as it can be distressing for some readers.
Obituaries often use terms such as “significant other” or “companion” when discussing relationships. If the deceased was in a long-term relationship that ended when they died, these relationships could be called either spouses or longtime companions.
An obituary often requests donations instead of flowers or gifts to pay their respects and support those attending a funeral or memorial service. This practice has become common and serves both families who will listen and anyone attending services for those they have lost.
At Connelly-McKinley, we provide families with services to write and publish an obituary for a loved one who has passed. We can assist in the final touches to the obituary so it’s ready for publication, whether on our newspaper’s pages or another publication outlet.
The Biographical Section
Family and Friends Funeral Home Obituaries typically begin by including basic details about a person, such as their full name, age, and where they lived. If necessary and suitable, an obituary can also include details regarding the cause of death, such as whether someone died from an extended illness or suddenly. If this information is too personal to share with readers, an alternative could be to state “passed away” instead.
A brief biographical section about the deceased details what they did for a living and any educational achievements (if applicable). Also, include any hobbies or activities they enjoyed and any religious beliefs they held dear. Ultimately, this can be an ideal opportunity to share stories and show why someone so beloved by many remained among us.
As soon as the deceased has passed, you should list their survivors, starting with spouse, children, and parents; then any grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the deceased if applicable; other relatives who have also died can be listed here as well, although proper etiquette suggests only listing them by their relationship to the dead (e.g., nieces/nephews/cousins, etc. may not necessarily appear here); usually nieces/nephews/cousins will typically not listed individually but stated as “survived by many nieces/nephews/cous.”
Once again, it is essential to include information regarding all significant relationships. This section can be an ideal opportunity to highlight any community involvement the person had and how it impacted those around them. You should also include any significant events they participated in – military service or notable achievements that come to mind as examples.
Finalizing an obituary requires including details about services, visits, and memorial sites or monuments, if applicable, to inform mourners how to express their condolences or support to grieving families. Furthermore, this provides an ideal platform to request donations instead of flowers if that would help ease suffering for the family. Finally, one line should always remain for special dedications or final messages.
Family members may be uncertain about what information should be included in an obituary. However, one key thing to remember is that an obituary should only reveal the information requested by the deceased; otherwise, it can be used for identity theft purposes and discomfort to the family. It’s also wise not to share anything which could distress or upset their grief journey at this challenging time.
In an obituary, survivors should typically be listed in the closest relationship: spouse, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, parents, and siblings. Depending on the situation, you may include stepchildren and stepsiblings alongside biological children; you should also consider including “and” before listing any grandchildren if there are multiple generations (i.e., “he leaves five grandchildren”). While it is generally inappropriate to include girlfriends/boyfriends in an obituary notice if a deceased had a significant other, that should be mentioned as either “partner” or “significant other.”
As part of an obituary, it’s essential to provide details of how the person died. Some families opt to be open about it, while others might prefer more privacy in this aspect. A natural death should usually be easy to incorporate; otherwise, phrases such as “he died after a long illness” or, even more directly: “he lost his battle with cancer” can suffice.
An obituary can be an uplifting way for loved ones to unite and honor a well-lived life. Following some basic etiquette guidelines for writing an obituary, families can create an online memorial site in honor of their deceased loved one that allows mourners and celebrators alike to grieve together and share memories. Our funeral home can assist in this endeavor – please reach out today for assistance with writing the perfect tribute!