How To Write An Obituary

Posted: 13/02/2018

An obituary is a news article which reports the recent death of a person in the community. Typically, the notice includes an account of the person’s life and information about their upcoming funeral.

If you have been tasked with writing an obituary for a loved one, it is best prepared with thoughtfulness and care. It must be treated with the same importance as the funeral service, because they both have in common that they each acknowledge the loss of a loved one, allow you to express grief and the happiness that their life provided their family and friends.

An obituary is great for calling to aid the local community and their support in the coming weeks and months which follow a death. Initially, the obituary serves to identify the passing of a loved one as well as the details for visitation, service, burial and the memorial.

It has been noted that plenty of obituaries unfortunately lack in the ability to convey the personality and life-time contributions of the person who has passed away. Instead of being meaningful, there is a risk of an obituary appearing dry if they are rushed to meet the newspaper deadline. In this guide, we will take you through the ways to be best convey the personality of your loved one as well as providing clear information about the funeral to the community.

To gain relevant information, ask the funeral home or cemetery. They will help you to prepare and place your obituary dedicated to your loved one where it needs to go in a proper manner.

Announcement of Death

When writing an obituary, you need to start with the basic details; name, age, the place of residence of the deceased, time and place of death. You can choose the vocabulary of how you phrase the announcement of death however you feel best suits; “Passed away”, “Died”, With the Lord”, “After a long struggle with (insert illness)” – these are all common variations of the statement of death. A lot of people feel as though simply saying “has died” is too blunt and prefer to use flowery phrases to soften the blow. Do what you feel is appropriate.

It is common to wonder whether to announce the cause of death in an obituary. Ultimately, this is up to the immediate family of the deceased. If they feel comfortable with sharing this information then that is the only circumstance in which the cause of death should be released.

Biographical Sketch  

Keep in mind the key word of ‘sketch’ here. Make sure you do not turn the obituary into a biography, rather it should be an outline which recounts important events, personality trains, contributions to the communities they were part of and the connections in the deceased’s life.

Of course, each life is unique but the main milestones to keep in mind to mention are:

  • Date and time of birth
  • Education and academic achievements (e.g degree)
  • Date and place of marriage (divorce/re-marriage if you feel it be necessary)
  • Birth name of spouse
  • Career
  • Children had during their lifetime

You could list the events in chronological order you if think that works best, but do not be afraid to list the more monumental moments first. As mentioned, you should try and keep it as a summary and use as little words as possible to convey their contributions.

Details of Service


The way you go about this may be specific to the local newspaper, so it may be best to consult with them. But generally, the essentials are; the time and date of the funeral, date and time of the burial/cremation, time and date of visitations – and the locations for all of these.

Special Messages

It is common to find special messages at the end of an obituary. These might read something like “in lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to…” or “Special thanks to…” or even a short prayer, a poem or lyrics from a song they loved.

Whilst such messages are optional, it may be a nice personal touch and a place to put things you want to say that maybe do not fit in the main body of the obituary.


Photos can be a pleasant reminder of a person who has passed away, a great way to trigger memories of that person and ultimately convey to the community their qualities and hobbies.

Whilst it is great to see old photos, it is important to make sure you have some more recent photos in there. After all, some people maybe have only known them in the last few years of their life and may not recognise them from older photos.

Pre-paid funeral

You may want to look into prepaid funeral plans to avoid the rising costs in the UK.

A prepaid funeral plan is a great investment in the long run. It not only allows you to access funeral arrangements at a fixed cost which are not subject to future prices, but also enables you to pay for your own or your loved one’s funeral in advance without the stress and worry.