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How to Write an Obituary

Losing a loved one is very painful, and though writing about their life can be an arduous task, it can also be a therapeutic and wonderful way to honor your loved one.


  • Step 1: Read other obituaries Read other obituaries to get a feel for how obituaries are commonly formatted and what information is used. Use your local newspaper, for example.
  • Step 2: Determine the specifics Determine your price range and deadline times by talking with your funeral director or with the local newspaper where it will run. Newspapers have strict deadlines and charge by column width, length, or word count. Once you've obtained that information, you can begin the creative process.
  • Step 3: Make a list Make a list of the basic information about the deceased you'd like to include. Most obituaries include the full name, age, birth date, place of residence, partner's name, and where and when the memorial service will take place.
  • TIP: Avoid identity theft by withholding sensitive information in the obituary. Thieves can use gaps in reporting the death to steal birth certificates, social security numbers, and financial information.
  • Step 4: Make a second list Create a second list of additional information. Some obituaries include the deceased's educational background, employment, birth place, parents, children and grandchildren, pets, hobbies, accomplishments, organization affiliations, military service, and where people can send contributions or flowers.
  • TIP: Mention in the obituary if your family is having donations sent to an organization important to the deceased in lieu of flowers.
  • Step 5: Begin writing Write the obituary by following the examples in your local paper and putting the pieces together one-by-one. Focus on the deceased's full and wonderful life, not their death.
  • Step 6: Revise Revise your original draft once it's completed. Make any necessary changes and try to tighten up your writing.
  • Step 7: Proofread Proofread your obituary thoroughly. You've put a lot of work into honoring your loved one, and you wouldn't want to ruin that work by misspelling one of their children's names. Now you can relax knowing that you've honored your loved one's life.
  • FACT: The newspaper-obituary tradition began to flourish at the London Times under the editorship of John Thadeus Delane, who served at the British paper from 1841-1877.

You Will Need

  • Local newspaper
  • Pen
  • Paper
  • Details about loved one's life
  • Charity organization (optional)

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