How to Write a Heartfelt Obituary - 9 Helpful Steps for Grieving Families

How to Write a Heartfelt Obituary - 9 Helpful Steps for Grieving Families

Feb 27, 2023

An obituary is a written tribute to someone who has recently passed away. It is a way to honor and remember the deceased, and it provides a summary of their life and accomplishments. Writing an obituary can be a difficult task, as you want to capture the essence of the person and do justice to their memory. 

Here are some tips on how to write a meaningful tribute in a standard obituary format. 

1. Designate someone to write it 

In some cases, the deceased may have written their own obituary before their passing or may have expressed their wishes for who they would like to write it. 

In other cases, the responsibility of writing the obituary may fall on a family member or close friend who is familiar with the person's life and accomplishments. 

Some families may choose to hire a professional obituary writer or a funeral home director to assist in writing the obituary. This can be especially helpful if the family is feeling overwhelmed or unsure of how to start the process. 

2. Gather information 

Before you start writing, gather as much information as you can about the person you are writing the obituary for. This includes their full name, age, place of birth, date of death, and any other biographical information that you think is relevant. You should also gather information about their family members, including their spouse, children, and siblings. 

3. Decide on the tone 

Obituaries can be written in a formal or informal tone, depending on the preferences of the family and the personality of the deceased. You should discuss with the family what tone they would prefer. If the person had a lively and outgoing personality, an informal tone may be more appropriate. If the person was more reserved and private, a formal tone may be better. 

4. Write an opening statement 

The opening statement should include the person's full name, age, and date of death. It should also include any information about their occupation or other important aspects of their life, such as their military service or community involvement. The opening statement should be clear and concise. Include biographical information. The obituary should include biographical information about the person, such as their date and place of birth, education, career, and hobbies. You should also include any awards or honors they received during their lifetime. It is important to focus on the person's accomplishments and positive attributes, rather than dwelling on their illness or cause of death. 

5. Include information about family 

The obituary should include information about the person's family members, including their spouse, children, and siblings. You should also include information about their parents and any other close family members who have passed away. If the person had a large family, you can simply list the names of their surviving family members. 

6. Provide details for funeral services 

The obituary should include information about any funeral or memorial services that will be held. This should include the date, time, and location of the service, as well as any special instructions such as a reception to follow or other requests from the family. 

7. Check the length

An obituary is usually around 200 to 500 words. This length is usually enough to include the person's basic biographical information, highlight their most important accomplishments, and convey a sense of their personality and character. However, some obituaries can be longer or shorter than this range, depending on the needs and preferences of the family.

Tip: What should you not include in an obituary? Don't put too much personal information in an obituary. Leave out details that could be used for identity theft, such as the deceased's date and place of birth, middle name, maiden name and mother's maiden name. Don't include the deceased's home address.

8. Proofread and edit 

Once you have written the obituary, be sure to proofread and edit it carefully. Check for spelling and grammar errors, and make sure that all of the information is accurate. You may want to have someone else read the obituary to ensure that it is clear and easy to understand. 

9. Share the Obituary

There are several places where you can post an obituary. Here are some common options: 

- Newspaper: Many people choose to publish obituaries in their local newspaper. Most newspapers have a section specifically for obituaries, and they often have guidelines for submission. Some newspapers may charge a fee for publishing an obituary. 

- Online obituary sites: There are many websites that specialize in publishing obituaries. These sites can be a good option if you want to reach a wider audience, as they can be accessed by people all over the world. Some popular online obituary sites include and

- Funeral home website: If the deceased had a funeral or memorial service, the funeral home may offer to publish the obituary on their website. This can be a good option if you want to keep the obituary more private, as it will only be accessible to people who visit the funeral home's website. 

- Social media: Some people choose to post obituaries on social media, such as Facebook or Twitter. This can be a good way to quickly reach a large number of people and allow friends and family to share their memories and condolences. 

Ultimately, where you choose to post the obituary will depend on your personal preferences and the needs of the family. It is important to carefully consider the options and choose the one that best honors the memory of the person who has passed away.

Writing an obituary can be a difficult and emotional task, but it is also an important way to honor and remember the person who has passed away. By following these tips, you can write an obituary that accurately reflects the person's life and accomplishments, and provides comfort and closure for their loved ones.

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