Following the passing of a loved one, family members can become overwhelmed with all the decisions that need to be made in the midst of their grief. One thing the family often feels overwhelmed with is the writing of the obituary. Don’t worry – the obituary will honor your loved one’s life simply by you writing it.
Because newspapers charge you by inch, word, or line (depending on the publication), make sure to write the obituary according to your budget.
If you’ve recently lost a loved one and have been assigned to write the obituary, we hope this checklist will help you in your efforts. We will walk you step-by-step on how to write a great obituary.
Announce the Death
Begin the obituary by announcing the death of your loved one. Here is some information you can include (in no particular order):
- Full Name
- Brief Description
- Day of Passing
You can generally fit all of this information into one or two sentences.
Example 1: John R. Doe, devoted husband to wife Jane, peacefully left this life surrounded by family on October 15, 2019, at the age of 92.
Example 2: On Thursday February 28th, 2019, Jane Doe returned home to her Father in Heaven and reunited with the love of her life John Doe whom she has missed daily for the past 10+ years.
Example 3: Jane Doe, 48, passed away unexpectedly at her home in Logan, Utah on July 12th, 2019 after a courageous 20-year battle with Type 1 diabetes.
Provide General Biographical Information
The next section of the obituary typically includes biographical information of your loved one. This section can include things like:
- Birth Date
- Marriage Information
- Work History
Example: John was the oldest of the family of three born in Ogden, UT on June 39, 1935 to John Doe Sr. and Betty Smith. He graduated from Ogden High School in 1957 and attended college at Utah State University where his and Jane’s love story began.
He was known for his sweet spirit and his love and service to others. He was a caring father to his four children whom he had a special bond with. He had many talents. One of which was his ability to paint beautiful scenery of Utah landscapes. His artwork can be seen in many businesses throughout Cache Valley. John was an accomplished accountant at Company XYZ, where he started working upon graduation from USU and continued working there for over 30 years.
Capture the Spirit of Your Loved One
It’s important to capture and express the spirit of your loved one when writing their obituary. Put together a paragraph that describes not only what they did, but also what they were like. In order to do that, you can focus on things like:
- Personal Characteristics
Example: Jane was also an excellent piano teacher giving private piano lessons for a period of 25 plus years. She delighted in showing off her student’s talents in the annual piano recitals she presented. She was always eager to share her musical talent with others and nothing made her smile bigger than watching her students perform.
Listing the Family Members
Most don’t have room to list every niece and cousin by name, especially for large families. However, it’s important to list those close family members who passed away before the loved one. It’s also important to list the close surviving family members such as parents, spouse, and children. It’s also okay to reference other relatives more generally.
Example: John is survived by his wife, Jane, three children and their spouses, Child 1 and Spouse 1, Child 2 and Spouse 2; Child 3 and Spouse 3, two sisters, Sister 1, Sister 2, 10 grandchildren and 21 great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents.
Provide the location, time, and date of the funeral or memorial services. Include information regarding flowers, donation, or condolences, also.
Example: In lieu of flowers the family suggests that donations be made to Cache Valley for Hope at www.cachevalleyforhope.org. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, October 19, 2019 at 12:00 pm at Allen-Hall Mortuary, 34 East Center, Logan, UT. There will be a viewing held on Friday evening from 6-8 pm and on Saturday from 10:30 – 11:30 am. Interment will be in the Logan City Cemetery.
Review and Revise
Double check your work and have a family members look over the obituary to make sure all information is accurate and that there are no mistakes. It is easy to overlook things during a time of grief so a second set of eyes will be helpful. Once you feel the obituary is complete, you can send it off for publication.
Please visit our Obituaries page if you would like to reference other obituaries.