When tasked with writing an obituary – a death notice typically published in the local newspaper and online – it can be difficult to find the words. You want to be provide the right information while showing your love and appreciation for the deceased loved one.
If you’re unsure where to begin, here are some pointers on how to write a meaningful obituary.
1. Begin with the hard part
Typically obituaries begin with the death announcement. The name of the deceased plus the date of the death often goes first. Some people choose to disclose the cause of death here, but generally families and loved ones prefer to be vague out of respect. Phrases such as, “after a long illness,” or “quietly in her sleep,” or “under the care of the staff at…” are used to soften the blow for those who might be learning about the death for the first time upon reading this.
2. Write a short biography
Many obituaries like to acknowledge the family of the deceased near the beginning. You can list a living spouse, siblings, children and grandchildren. Many people start this by saying, “She is survived by…”
Some obituaries mention the predeceased as well, such as parents, children or siblings.
After acknowledging the family, you can include some highlights of the person’s life. Were they passionate about their career? Did they enjoy a specific hobby or sport? Were they involved in charity work? This is the part of the obituary where you get to celebrate the individual’s life.
3. Give details on the funeral and/or burial
One of the purposes of a death notice is to give people specific details regarding the funeral, memorial and burial. Give the time, date and location (such as Chapel Ridge Funeral Home and Cremation Centre) of the service and visitation(s). You can also give information about the burial if you are allowing guests to attend. Some families opt for private interments at a later date, so you can write that as well.
4. How people can show sympathy
Many families and loved ones like to select a relevant charity to support in memory of the deceased. You can choose an organization related to the cause of death, or you can opt for one that the person was affiliate with or passionate about.
Many people introduce the charity by saying “in lieu of flowers…” That said, you will likely still receive flowers.
5. A favourite quote
If you wish, you can include a relevant quote at the top or at the end of the obituary. Whether it is a quote from literature, a song, or a line of scripture, choose something that captures the essence of the deceased. This is optional, but adds a nice personal touch.
6. Include a photo
Having a photo is a nice touch as well. You can choose a portrait from their younger years, or a more recent photo where the person looks happy and healthy. You want people to remember them at their best.
7. Ask a funeral director
The team at Chapel Ridge Funeral Home will work with you on writing the perfect obituary to publish in your local paper. Some families wish to publish death notices in many cities to ensure it’s seen by everyone who knew the person. Chapel Ridge is experienced in this, and it is just one of the many things we help families with during the planning process. We will also publish the obituary on our website under our upcoming services so families can find the information.