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How to write an obituary

April 24th, 2018    Author:

An obituary gives notice of a person’s death along with details of the funeral service and memorial information. You might want to write a short obituary for the local paper and a longer version to be read as a eulogy at the service. This can celebrate the deceased by including more about their personality, their achievements and significant life events. A detailed obituary makes a lovely lasting tribute that can be used on a memorial website or as a remembrance in a family scrapbook.

Here are a few tips that we hope will help you when writing an obituary…

Announcing the death

The obituary should start by detailing the name and age of the deceased along with their place of residence and the time and place of death. Use language that you feel comfortable with – some people prefer to say ‘died’ while others might want to write something like ‘passed away’. It’s also up to you whether you state the cause of death. In the case of sudden death, it may help you having to repeatedly explain the cause to people around you.

Listing the family
As part of the obituary, you need to list surviving family members as well as immediate family who preceded the deceased, starting with the closest relative first. Write the relative’s first name followed by the first name of their spouse in brackets and then the surname – for example: Helen (Rory) Jones. If the couple aren’t married, follow this format: Helen (Rory Brown) Jones. With a large family, it may not be possible to list everyone so here you can keep it to numbers, such as ‘ten grandchildren’.

Notifying mourners
An important part of the obituary is to let mourners know details of the funeral service and this should include the time, date and venue plus the officiant’s name. Similar details should be given for the burial or cremation.

Leaving a special message

It’s not compulsory but you may want to end the obituary by thanking a particular hospital, hospice or care home. You can also use the last part of the obituary to inform people about making a donation rather than leaving floral tributes, or sign off with a line from a poem or prayer.

Showing a photo
You don’t have to include a photo with the obituary, but it will help the notice to stand out and make it easier for friends and neighbours to spot in the newspaper. For this reason, it’s best to use an up-to-date photo of the deceased so that they are easily recognisable.

* If you have any questions about writing an obituary, please contact Austin’s on 01438 316623 or come in to any of our branches


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