Easy Steps to Writing a Meaningful Obituary
An obituary is a very personal piece of writing that highlights the notable points of a deceased person's life and is usually often included in a newspaper as an expanded announcement of the passing of a person. An obituary includes a few key elements such as the name of the deceased, the deceased's age, the deceased's city of residence, and the location where the deceased passed away. The location of passing may be general, like a specific city or state, or may be more specific, like the name of a particular hospital or hospice facility. Including the cause of death is not necessary in an obituary, but may be mentioned if done so in a tasteful way. Do not include gruesome or explicit details of the death.
The obituary should mention important relatives, and even friends, to the person who is deceased. Relatives may encompass both immediate family and extended family, such as mother, father, current spouse and/or deceased spouse, children and stepchildren, children's spouses (included in parentheses after the listed child), grandchildren, great-grandchildren, aunts and uncles, cousins, and nephews and nieces.
Obituaries often contain highlights from the deceased's life. When crafting a meaningful obituary, consider where the deceased went to school. Consider high school, college and post-graduate accomplishments, any clubs or organizations which they may have been a part of, and any leadership roles they may have held. Was the person a member of the audio-visual club at their high school? Did the person receive a fellowship to study ancient cultures in Peru?
Also reflect on the professional accomplishments of the deceased, and mention current place of employment and position held, as well as career awards and honors. Was the person the vice-president of their company? Obituaries also often include the deceased's participation in volunteer organizations and any causes which the deceased may have been passionate about. Was the person active in the community rotary club? Was the person the president of the PTA?
Favorite vacation destinations, meaningful getaway spots, and hobbies are all information which help to craft an engaging obituary. Did the person love to summer at their family home on Cape Cod? Will the family never forget the cruise they took with the person to Mexico? Was the person an avid runner, sailor, hunter, or knitter? Did the person love to do crossword puzzles? Think about the personality of subject and try to reflect that within the context of the obituary. If the person was a joker, mention their favorite one-liner or a particular funny story they were adept at telling. Do not include irrelevant personal struggles.
Obituaries provide the opportunity for the community to know about upcoming funeral and memorial services for the deceased. Information which should be included in this section include the funeral venue, the company handling the funeral services, the time and date of the funeral, and instructions regarding flower donations. Some families prefer that in lieu of flowers, honorary contributions be made to the deceased's favorite charity. Funeral and memorial services, however, need not be included in the obituary if the family does not wish it mentioned or has not yet made plans. Do not include any solicitations for money if it appears greedy.
Including a photograph of the deceased to accompany the written obituary is a nice touch. The photograph may be either a current or a prior photograph highlighting the person's true essence. Obituaries may be any length, but an obituary between 300 and 500 words is considered standard. Note that newspaper editors may make small changes to the obituary content to fit the formatting of their publication.