Writing an obituary takes a certain type of craft. You also should know the guidelines for publishing obituary and what to include to make it a successful announcement.

An obituary has to serve as many things in one. In its simplest form, it is a notice of death, but it is also a story of life. The obituary is a public article as well, showing a record of extended family, announcing a funeral or memorial service, thanking others who were there for the deceased and making request for funeral donations. As you write the obituary, it's important to keep it accurate and complete, while allowing yourself to elaborate on a compelling journey. So how should you approach an obituary? You can use a methodical approach if it helps.

Understand Obituary Rules

If you are publishing the obituary, newspapers will have specific requirements in some cases for how long the obituary can be and where you can place it in the newspaper. You can get more information regarding how to submit your obituary and the specific guidelines by calling the local newspaper. Some funeral homes will be able to provide forms with the basic information and will write a full obituary as part of their services based on the details that you give.

The Basic Obituary

Basically, you'll need to announce the death, including the name, age at death, residence at death, day and date of death, place of death and cause of the death. In addition, you'll need to mark occasions of life, such as birthday, place of birth, names of parents, siblings and marriages. You'll also need to mention education, awards, achievements and employment. Hobbies, volunteer work, and personality quirks are also normally included in the obituary. You also need to name who the deceased was survived by, including spouse, children, parents, grandparents or friends in some cases. The date of the service, place and other information for a memorial is also included. You may also want to thank people in the obituary. If necessary, you can list all of these out in a checklist and mark each one off as you include it in the obituary.

Checking for Style and Errors

If you're not a writer, that's okay. Newspaper copy editors will normally edit and run a final copy by you before submitting to be printed. In addition, they will check for errors, but you should check beforehand to make sure that there are no spelling mistakes, particularly on names and places. You also want to see if you can add a picture or make the obituary longer for a small fee.


Additional Details

You should publish the obituary one to two days prior to services so that friends and family can make arrangements to attend. You should also add whether the services or public or private, and make sure that you have the accurate information for the location, day and time of visitation. You may also want to list charities to receive donations in the name of the deceased or specify what kind of donations you would like for the memorial service, specifically if you don't want flowers but rather, “In lieu of flowers, please give a contribution to the burial services.” Something like this will allow those reading to try and help out with burial costs or donate to a charity if you specify.