Friday, January 3, 2014

How to write an obituary for yourself or a loved one.

Writing an obituary, whether for yourself or a loved one is one of the most important things that you’ll ever write; simply because it will be the last story told and the last voice heard.

You can write your own obituary.

Unless it is a sudden death, many people are choosing to personalize their entire funeral service, including writing their own obituaries. By doing this yourself, the obituary will honor your legacy and it is also a kind and selfless thing to do. It is one less thing for your loved ones to do at the time of your passing. In most instances you will be asked to write an obituary for a deceased loved one or friend.

Here’s how to write an obituary for someone who has recently died.

The first thing you would do is to contact the funeral home where they will be making all the funeral arrangements. The funeral director has vast experience and expertise in this area. They will know exactly what to do and can guide you through this process. Many funeral homes offer a printed obituary in the newspaper as part of the funeral package. Almost all funeral homes also host a guest book or memorial page on their website under “Obituaries”.

There are costs to consider. 

If you are on a budget, ask your funeral director to provide some costs and suggestions on how to keep the obituary within your budget. Most newspapers charge by the inch, but the word count will vary based on the paper's font and column width, so you should ask how many words are in an inch. You’ll want the obituary to be printed in your local paper and any other places where your loved one lived.

There is a deadline.

Newspapers have a 4 or 5 p.m. deadline for obituaries. You might want to submit the obituary early, giving the editors enough time to proofread and place your obituary in a prime location on the obituary page.

Publish as soon as possible.

The obituary should be printed as soon as the funeral plans are finalized, giving friends and loved ones enough time to make plans for the visitation and informing them where and when the funeral/memorial or graveside service will take place.

Here are the basics to include in the Obituary.

  1. Your loved one’s first and last name, (including their maiden name if female.)
  2. A recent photo of your loved one.
  3. Age and birthdate (optional) 
  4. Your loved one’s residence including city and state and any other residences.
  5. Your loved one’s spouse or partner’s full name. (years of marriage/cohabitation.) 
  6. The full names and residences of your loved one’s children. 
  7. The full names of your loved one’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 
  8. The names of your loved one’s parents. If deceased, state "the son of the late Mary and Jim Wilson." 
  9. Information about your loved one’s education such as the name of their high school, college and graduate school and any honors or special achievements. 
  10. Dates of military service and status if applicable. 
  11. Information about your loved one’s career and their place of employment if desired. 
  12. Include churches, clubs, organizations, volunteer groups and other activities that were important to your loved one. 
  13. Your loved one’s pets by name and what they meant to him/her. 
  14. Your loved one’s favorite hobbies or avocations. Was she an avid photographer or an award winning cook? 
  15. An anecdote that demonstrates your loved one’s personality traits. (optional) 
  16. Information on how the death occurred is also optional. If your loved one died in a 911 type situation, at war, or after fighting an illness like cancer, you may want to include it. Use your good judgment. 
  17. Provide the name, address and time(s) of the funeral, visitation, or memorial services and the same information on the burial and graveside service. (if the decedent is being buried)
  18. Include details about where people can make a memorial contribution in lieu of flowers, if that what your loved one would want. 
Final Checklist:

Spell check and proofread your written work before submitting it to the funeral director. Ask the funeral director what your loved one would think of the obituary. Do you both feel that you captured the essence of who they were and what their life was about?

Overall, the obituary should be respectful and as simple as possible while focusing on honoring the loved one’s life instead of focusing on his or her death. The obituary should be a celebration of a life well lived.

Nancy Burban 2014

Funeral fund

1 comment:

  1. I had no idea that writing your own obituary was something a lot of people have been doing lately. I've never even heard of anybody doing that, and I'm not sure I could. I would feel good about doing it, because like you said, it would be once less thing my family would have to do, but I would feel so... funny, doing it! How do I write something to honor myself without sounding extremely proud, or silly. I'll have to talk to my husband and see if he will write mine, and I can write his in turn.



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