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Writing an Obituary

HOW TO WRITE A MEANINGFUL OBITUARY

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By  

Angela Morrow, RN

After the death of a loved one, you might want to write your own meaningful obituary for use on social media sites or to publish in a local newspaper and/or on a website. This article offers a step-by-step guide to help you write a meaningful, comprehensive obituary for your loved one.

At a minimum, an obituary informs people of the fact that a death has occurred and of the details concerning the funeral, memorial service and/or interment arrangements. At its best, however, an obituary can also provide a meaningful summary of a person's life and legacy.

Ask other family members, friends, co-workers and/or others who knew the deceased well to help you recall facts, dates, proper spelling of names or locations, other important or interesting information, etc.

WRITING THE OBITUARY

After collecting the information you will need for an obituary, use a pen and paper, or your computer—whichever is easiest for you—to list and organize the important facts and information you want to include.

BASIC FACTS

Start with the full name of the deceased, his or her date and place of birth, the date, and place of death, and his or her age at the time of death. Also, note where the deceased lived at the time of his or her death. If you wish, you can include the cause of death

SUMMARY OF LIFE

Provide a brief summary of the deceased's life, starting from birth and working forward. You don't need to include every detail; just the key facts/information that helps the obituary reader learn more about the deceased and/or helps the reader determine if he or she has a personal connection to the person who died.

Don't worry right now about listing too much information because you can always edit it later.

LIST OF RELATIVES

List relatives, both living and deceased. Don't forget to include grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and step-family members. Decide which ones you will include by name and those whom you will include by relation only.

In general, obituaries usually include the full names of the deceased's parents, siblings, and children, as well as his or her spouse/partner, but only the total number of grandchildren or great-grandchildren.

In addition, the spouses/partners of children usually include only their first name in parenthesis after the child's name, e.g., "Survived by daughter Jane (John) Doe."

FUNERAL OR MEMORIAL DETAILS

List the details of the funeral or memorial service and reception, if applicable. Include the name and address (and the website address and/or phone number, if available) of the funeral provider handling the details and where the burial/interment will take place, if applicable.

DONATIONS

List the charities or memorial fund to which you want donations sent in honor or memory of the deceased in lieu of flowers.

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