How To Write An Obituary: 5 Steps With Examples

Learn how to write obituaries for friends with these 5 simple steps and examples. Honor your loved one's memory with a heartfelt tribute.

How To Write An Obituary: 5 Steps With Examples

Writing an obituary is an important task that not only announces the passing of a loved one but also highlights significant aspects of their life. Whether it's for a family member or crafting obituaries for friends, the process can be a cathartic way to honor their memory and inform the community of their departure.

Writing the obituary involves a blend of factual information and personal touches that create a respectful and cherished announcement. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you through this thoughtful process.

Step 1: Collect Basic Information

Begin by gathering all essential information about the deceased, which includes:

  • Full name and any nicknames

  • Date and location of birth

  • Date and location of death

  • Names of family members (both surviving and predeceased)

  • Details about their education, employment, and any notable achievements

  • Information about the time and place of the funeral, burial, and any memorial services

Example: Jane Smith, lovingly known as Janie, was born on March 3, 1945, in Austin, Texas. She passed away peacefully on August 15, 2024, surrounded by family in Dallas, Texas.

Step 2: Draft the Announcement of Death

Crafting the death announcement in an obituary is a delicate task that respectfully informs the community of a significant loss. This section should succinctly convey the essential details: the full name of the deceased, their age at the time of passing, the date of their death, and optionally, a brief mention of the cause if it is appropriate and the family wishes to include it.

Example: We are deeply saddened to announce that Michael Thomas Johnson, age 82, passed away peacefully on the morning of October 3, 2024, at his home in Springfield. Michael, a cherished member of our community and beloved husband to Elaine for over 50 years, succumbed to a brief illness. His kindness and wisdom touched many lives, and his absence will be profoundly felt by all who knew him.

This announcement sets the tone for the obituary, combining factual information with a touch of personal sentiment, reflecting the respect and affection held for the deceased.

Step 3: Add a Biography

The biography section of an obituary paints a vivid picture of the deceased's life, capturing significant milestones, personal characteristics, and their impact on others. It should weave together personal and professional details, creating a narrative that honors their life's journey.

Example: Michael Thomas Johnson was born on May 22, 1942, in Springfield, where he grew up on the family farm before earning a scholarship to study engineering at Boston University. After graduating, Michael dedicated 35 years to innovating in the field of renewable energy, where his work facilitated advances in solar technology. A committed volunteer at the local food bank, Michael was also a passionate gardener and a mentor to many young engineers. Known for his quick wit and generous spirit, Michael cherished family gatherings and was a devoted father to three daughters, instilling in them his values of hard work and kindness.

This section should reflect who they were, focusing on what they loved, their contributions, and how they lived, providing a heartfelt snapshot to those who knew them and an introduction to those who did not.

Step 4: Include Funeral Information1

Provide details about the funeral or memorial services to allow friends and acquaintances the opportunity to attend or send condolences.

Example: A memorial service will be held at 2:00 PM on August 22, 2024, at Riverside Chapel in Dallas. The family invites you to a reception following the service at Jane's favorite park.

Step 5: Close with a Personal Message

Concluding an obituary with a personal message adds a touching final tribute to the deceased, reflecting their spirit and the impact they left on their loved ones. This can be a poignant quote, a summary of their philosophy on life, or a heartfelt message from the family.

Example: Michael lived a life rich in love and wisdom, always guided by his belief that "the truest form of wealth is giving back." He leaves a legacy of kindness, generosity, and a community that is bettered by his presence. We, his family, are grateful for the laughter and lessons he shared and will carry his memory forward with each act of kindness we bestow. In remembering Michael, we invite you to plant a tree in his memory or contribute to a charity close to your heart, as he often did.

This personal closure not only encapsulates Michael's life philosophy but also offers others a way to honor his memory, reinforcing the themes of his life's work and values.

Frequently Asked Questions About Crafting an Obituary

Q: How detailed should an obituary be?
A: An obituary should capture the essence of the person's life without being overly lengthy. Aim for succinct yet meaningful descriptions that convey their impact and personality.
Q: Can I write an obituary if I'm not a family member?
A: Absolutely. Friends often write obituaries, especially if they are close to the deceased. Ensure you coordinate with the family to respect their wishes and get factual details right.
Q: Should I mention the cause of death?
A: Mentioning the cause of death is optional and should be considered based on the family's preferences and the deceased's wishes.

Preserve Memories with WillBox

Writing the obituary is a significant gesture that serves as a tribute and an announcement. It's an opportunity to publicly celebrate the life of your loved one and share important details about their final arrangements. Following these steps, you can compose a thoughtful and informative obituary that honors their memory and informs the community.

In remembering your loved ones, consider using WillBox, a digital vault platform where you can safely store and manage obituaries, wills, and other important documents. WillBox ensures that the legacies of those dear to you are preserved and accessible for future generations. Register today to see how we can help keep your cherished memories and important documents secure.

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