Proper Obituary Etiquette for Multiple Marriages

by Lara Webster
It is customary for someone in the immediate family to pen the obituary or death notice.

It is customary for someone in the immediate family to pen the obituary or death notice.

Writing an obituary may be an arduous task in a time of grief, but you'll want to get it just right. The good news is that the contents of an obituary are completely up to the family's wishes. While etiquette indicates that former spouses are not included in the survivors section of an obituary, you may include the marriages elsewhere in the obituary if you deem it appropriate.

Survivors

Obituaries include a survivors section, usually at the end, which lists the family members that are still living. Most obituaries include the deceased's current spouse in the list of survivors, but don't mention any ex-spouses, as they are not typically considered current family.

Biography

Even if you don't include ex-spouses in the list of survivors, you may still include the marriages in the biography section. The biography section makes up the majority of the obituary and describes the major achievements and milestones in a person's life. If a marriage was a major part of the deceased's life, especially if it produced children, it's acceptable to include information about it.

Preceded in Death

In addition to listing survivors in an obituary, it is also customary to include a list of people who preceded your loved one in death. If the deceased had multiple marriages because a first spouse passed away, it is acceptable to list that spouse.

Discretion

While etiquette says that previous spouses are typically not included in a list of survivors, the bottom line is that the family can either include or omit anyone. An obituary is not any sort of legal document, so if you prefer to pretend that a former marriage never happened, you can conveniently leave it out of the biography. Likewise, if an ex-wife remained a friend and integral part of the family, she may be listed as a survivor if the current spouse approves.

About the Author

Lara Webster has been writing professionally since 2009. Her work has been featured on Relationships in the Raw, The Nursery Book, Spark Trust and several travel-related websites. Webster holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Arts in mass communication and media studies, both from San Diego State University.

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