Sometimes, very sadly, we lose people that are either very close to us or people we respect in our community. Writing an obituary can be difficult, especially if you are emotionally attached to the person. You will be feeling emotionally fragile but it is something that you might be asked to do by the family or you might decide it needs to be done.

Why do you need to write an obituary?

  • It is partly a death notice which lets other family members and their friends know that this person has died. Not only does it notify people about the person’s death but it also, importantly, gives them information about the funeral arrangements.
  • It’s also an opportunity to let others know what this person achieved in their life and why they will be missed.

NOTE: An obituary is a written document put together before a funeral. It is NOT a eulogy which is a speech given about the person during the funeral.

Where does an obituary appear?

As an obituary is a written document that includes the death notice, it is often placed in a local newspaper. Part of the obituary praising the achievements of the person can also be printed with the funeral programme. Social media is another popular method of posting the obituary. You can post it on Facebook or other similar platforms to inform the community about the death of this person. Newspapers also print obituaries for famous people.

What information to include in an obituary?

  • The announcement of the death, including the time and date (and possibly the cause).
  • A short biographical outline of the person.

This might include:

  1. Their date of birth.
  2. Some personal characteristics of the person.
  3. Their achievements.
  4. Why they will be missed.

(Four or five sentences is enough.)

  • A list of their surviving spouse (wife/husband) and children.
  • The date, time and place of the funeral or memorial service.
  • Any other special messages or requests. (Donations rather than flowers, funeral for family only etc.)

What are some of the features of writing an obituary?

  • You usually use formal language when writing an obituary as it is something that will be published in a newspaper or on an online platform.
  • You want to show your respect for someone so you will choose words that show this. This means that you use formal words such as ‘father’ rather than the colloquial words such as ‘dad’ or ‘pa’. You also won’t use slang words such as ‘bra’ or any words that might cause offense.
  • You write in full sentences and in paragraphs (as set out in the ‘What to include’ section).

Writing an obituary is an important job that comes at a time when you will probably be stressed about the death of a person close to you. But it is also a time when you can tell the world how much the deceased person meant to you and to the people around you.