Affordable Burials and Cremations understands that when a dear friend or loved one has passed on, shock and grief are normal emotions. But even through the storm of strong and painful feelings, certain details must be attended to. It may fall to you, for example, to write the deceased person’s obituary.
An obituary can simply be a very succinct notice of the death, with details about the funeral arrangements. Or it can be many things rolled into one: a loving eulogy of the lost loved one, a record of their family history, a request for donations, and a short but compelling life story.
If you feel lost at the thought of conveying so much in a short newspaper notice, know that an obituary can be greatly expanded upon online, as you may choose to create a longer document that can be sent out electronically to family and friends in a variety of formats. Regardless of the obituary’s length or style, there are some guiding principles on how to write a good obituary that we think you might find helpful.
Affordable Burial and Cremations’ Five Essentials for Writing an Obituary that Honours Your Loved One
1. Accuracy of detail. It is easy to make typos and mistakes when spelling names or writing dates; even easier to leave out crucial information, like the date of death or the names of key relatives. The best way to ensure accuracy is to ask someone else to proofread the document, and then go over it again yourself just to be sure. Because the length of an obituary is generally quite short
2. Comprehensive information. Some are reluctant to provide too much information in an obituary because of concerns around identity theft. However, details like dates of birth and maiden names are a boon to families seeking to trace their genealogy, and should not be omitted out of hand. Instead, notify the deceased bank and credit card companies immediately to reduce the possibility of fraud.
3. Storytelling. Every person who has passed on, had a life – a story that deserves to be told. Even though you can’t condense a person’s entire life story into an obituary, you can certainly go beyond the fact that he or she was loved and will be missed. A good way to honour a person’s memory is to think of three adjectives that sum up the person most, then use them in the obituary. It doesn’t have to be long, but for people to read that Uncle Harry was ‘gregarious, entertaining and kind’ will bring up fond memories of him and help people to celebrate his life as well as grieving his death.
4. Research. Using online obituary templates or obituary/eulogy-writing resources may help you get a handle on things like formatting, but you can also look in your newspaper’s obituary section to get an idea of obituaries that you like and dislike. Call the newspaper or visit their website for rates to find out what size and length obituary you can afford.
5. Focus. The person who passed away should be the main focus of the obituary. This seems obvious, but sometimes people refer to the deceased person only according to their relationship with them. For example, Uncle Harry should be simply called Harry (or Harold), because he was an individual with many roles. The obituary is about him; it can and should be used to showcase his life and the key people he shared it with.