How do I write an Obituary?


Writing an obituary can be a daunting task so often funeral homes and mortuaries will write the obituary for you based on the information you provide to them. Once you have collected the information about the deceased that you'd like to include in the obituary, writing it is not that difficult.

The hardest aspect of obituary writing is collecting the dates and information about the deceased's life. Writing the obituary for a loved one can be a therapeutic and welcomed task. This is your opportunity to show your loved one in the best possible light and to include information about the deceased that may not be widely known.

An obituary is a celebration of the deceased and it is an honor to be the one to write it. Now that you have taken on this task, here are some ways to make the writing go a little easier.

How to Write an Obituary, Sentence by Sentence

If you've read obituaries in the newspaper or online, you'll notice that there is a pattern to them. They always have certain elements included and the information flows from specifics of the death and funeral, to details about the deceased and surviving family.

  • The first sentence starts with the full name of the deceased, the city in which they resided, the date they died, where they died and sometimes cause of death.
  • The next sentence often tells when and where the deceased was born, and the names of parents.
  • Then the obituary can go on to give accomplishments and a chronological account of the person's life and education.
  • A list of surviving family usually is at the end, but can also be included right after the first sentence announcing the death.
  • The obituary closes with the funeral, burial, wake, or memorial details and a foundation where memorial gifts can be donated.

An example of an Obituary:

Ariel Johnstone, of Lake Ridge, Alaska died Saturday, September 27, 2008 in Sunnybrook Health Center after a short fight against heart disease.

Born in Tallwood, Minnesota, February 4, 1936, to Baxter and Thelma Parks, Ariel was an excellent student and a talented artist; she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1965 from the New York University.

She went on to create art and her works were shown in art galleries and museums around the world. Ariel took a position teaching art in 1992 at the Alaska Community College where she taught until she retired in 2005.

She was an avid outdoor adventurer and enjoyed living in Alaska's rugged environment. She chose to live out her days in Alaska because she loved the people, the land and the animals.

Ariel is survived by her husband, Jake, her daughter Shelby and her son Christopher; her sister Alana and her husband Jonathan and their two children Alison and Aspen; her Aunt Betty Oliver; cousins, Joshua, Gerald, and Chrystal; and her Uncle Ted Parks, his wife Suzanne and cousins Georgina, Eric, and Shirley.

The funeral service will be held at 2:00 September 30, 2008 at Lake Ridge Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the National Heart and Stroke Foundation.

You can find more sample obituaries at

Writing your own Obituary

Some people write their own obituary before death so that they include the information that is most important and relevant. If you choose to do this, you will save your loved ones time, but you might be robbing them of a chance to research your life and to say goodbye through the act of writing your obituary.

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