How To Write An Obituary And Are They Necessary?

When a loved one dies, many people are dealing with their grief so much, as well as the sadness among the rest of their family. But one task that needs to be done is to write an obituary that announces the person’s death, so that everyone should know, alerting friends and family that you might not even know about.

An obituary serves many purposes, the foremost being that it notifies the public of a loved one’s death. However, one of the many reasons one must know how to write an obituary for a deceased family member or loved one is because many states have regulations that might require them for probate proceedings. Public notice of death, like writing an obituary for a newspaper, is often used to notify unknown creditors, so that they can make claims against the estate.

Knowing how to write an obituary is just the first step, as you then need to fill in all the appropriate answers that an obituary asks. We’ll list out the several most important points that every obituary must have, then you can add in other information afterward.

Many times, state law will just require a death certificate be filed with the state. Of course, the attending physician or any health care facility that cared for your loved one would prepare the death certificate. An estate-planning attorney will help you understand the laws and requirements in your respective state. Likewise, here are five tips on how to write your loved one’s obituary.

How to Write an Obituary

It’s important to understand that, first and foremost, you need the necessary facts about the deceased, or else everything else you write is inconsequential. Here are the things you have to have in your obituary. The length of the obituary is likely measured by price, so find out how much information you can put in for the budget you have in mind.

Biographical Facts

This is all of the obvious stuff, but many times, these are the important things we forget when we write an obituary. Make sure to include the person’s full name, age, date of birth and their city/state of most recent residence. Be prepared to make some phone calls to get the answers to some of these questions.

Name of Spouse/Mate

After the important information, it’s integral to add the name of the widow, so that people can send their condolences directly to them.

Survivors

After the facts are covered, this is the most important piece, as they’ll be the ones grieving the most, and they’ll most certainly be reading the obituary you write. Double-check the names and spelling of the family, as many will want to clip out the obituary and keep it as a memory – but they’ll get mad if they see their names are spelled incorrectly.

Time/Date/Location For Funeral/Wake

Obviously, you need to have this in your obituary if you want this death announcement to do its job. Where is the funeral or wake going to be and what are the hours for viewing or memorial services. It’s quite possible that you don’t know this information yet, but you can mention the funeral home’s name so that anyone who might be interested can contact them for time of services.

Extra Information

Finally, if you have room, you’ll want to add some other details about the deceased, like:

  • Some of the other cities they’ve lived in
  • Where they were born
  • Other family members (nephews/nieces/aunts/uncles)
  • Special friends they might have had
  • Place of their employment
  • Activities or organizations they might have been involved with, like churches and volunteer groups
  • Military service
  • Schools/university they attended
  • Notable accomplishments

At the end, it might be smart to add a note about where people can make a contribution for a memorial fund, or if they’d like to donate to a specific charity in lieu of sending flowers. Just make sure you add the website or street address for the charity to make it easy.

5 Tips On How to Write An Obituary

Rarely will we ever have to write an obituary, but when we are tasked with this exercise, we want to know how to do it correctly, to pay our utmost respects.

  1. Figure Out How Much It Will Cost, So You Know How Much To Write

Grab a local edition of your newspaper, or go online to their website, to check out their obituary section. This will help give you a template of what you should write, and you’ll find out how much it costs to submit an obituary. They usually cost a set amount, with additional charges for each additional inch of copy. Also, your funeral home might submit the obituary for you, but you’ll still need to know a word count and if there are any length restrictions. You’ll need to know the deadline in order to submit the obituary in time as well.

  1. Decide What to Include

You’re most likely going to have to make some phone calls in order to get all of the information you need, so make notes ahead of time on who to call for what, so that you don’t waste time and you don’t forget anything.

The basic template for an obituary means you should include:

  • Full name of the deceased
  • Date of Birth
  • Age
  • Name of spouse (whether they are still alive or also deceased)
  • City and state of residence
  • Time and location of the viewing, funeral, wake and/or memorial service.

For that final line, if you’re not sure when the funeral will be just yet, you can direct people to the funeral home for when arrangements will be made.

  1. Other Options to Include In An Obituary

Outside of the things you really must include, which are mentioned above, there are some optional items you can add to fill the obituary, and give readers a better idea of the lost life of your loved one or family member.

  • City and state of where they were born
  • Date of marriage
  • Parents’ names
  • Names of their children and grandchildren
  • Other family members’ names (siblings, uncles, aunts)
  • Other cities and states they lived in
  • Schools attended, along with an possible degrees they earned
  • Activities and clubs they were members of, like churches and other organizations
  • Pets
  • Military service
  • Places of employment
  • Notes about their personality or possibly an anecdote

With all of the included information, you should be able to follow any provided online template on how to write an obituary or follow the template already created by previous obituaries in your local newspaper.

Remember that an obituary helps to acknowledge the loss of a loved one, expresses the sorrow felt by family and friends, and it shares a glimpse into the joy that their lives brought to everyone.

What’s Usually Necessary for an Obituary?

When writing an obituary, try to do so in a completely calm manner, with time to think clearly. It’s also important to try to stick to the normal conventions, so that readers can find the information they need quickly. Here are some items most obituaries have.

Most obituaries published in the United States should include:

  • The full name of the deceased
  • Their date of birth
  • The age upon their death
  • City and state of residence
  • The name of their spouse, including whether they are survived by them or whether they are also deceased
  • Location and time of the funeral, memorial service, viewing or wake

If you are unsure when the funeral will be at the time you write the obituary, you should direct people to contact the funeral home for locations and times.

What Might Be Optional for All Obituaries?

If you have enough room in the obituary, here are several things to consider adding that can give more details into your loved one’s life.

  • Date of marriage
  • Names of their parents
  • Names of their children and grandchildren
  • City and state of where your loved one was born
  • Other cities and states they lived in
  • Schools attended, along with any degrees they might have earned
  • Military service
  • Places of employment
  • Names of other family members (siblings, aunts and uncles)
  • Activities and clubs they were members of, like churches and other organizations
  • Names of their pets
  • Notes about their personality and possibly an anecdote

It’s unlikely you’ll have all the information available when you write the obituary initially, so give yourself plenty of time to make phone calls to get answers, correct spellings of names and other details.

Do you need help with a funeral in the South Florida area? Call the The Gardens of Boca Raton Cemetery & Funeral Services at (561) 989-9190 and they can help you with writing and posting an obituary. Call them or visit their offices in Boca Raton on North Military Trail

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