How to Write a Death Notice or Obituary

by Contributor

Writing a death notice for a newspaper or an obituary for a funeral program is probably one of the hardest things you will ever do for a family member.

Funeral homes will help you prepare both a death notice and an obituary but be aware that they are not the same thing. Get a family member or a close friend to help you through the process of preparation. Emotionally, it will help you tremendously.

Basically, a death notice will be put into a newspaper to advise people of a death and the details for the services. Always remember that this is part of the classified ads section. You are going to pay for this service. Check with the newspaper or funeral home to get the most accurate estimate of charges but a small ad running for 3 days will probably run you around a $1,000.00

An obituary is what appears in the funeral program or memorial booklet. As a history buff, I love when people give exact dates and places for marriages and earlier deaths; however, in this day and age of identity theft, I strongly suggest you not do that when you write either the death notice or the obit.

For the death notice, the basic information of name, next of kin, date of death, and date and time for the services is all your really need. If there is something else you want to add, that's great but keep it simple--you're paying for your wordiness. If your family requests donations for a charity or other organization, this should be in this listing. Usually, the funeral home will offer to take care of this for the family. Be aware that you also have the option of doing it yourself. If you look at the newspaper, info is always included in the death notice section about how to submit the item. Funeral homes should be listed so that people can call them and not you for additional information.

Obituaries are a little different. These are the major part of the funeral or memorial program booklet and you control exactly how you want this to appear. When my Mom passed away, my siblings and I decided to make her funeral booklet a "memorial" booklet for the family. We concentrated on my Mom's life and wrote out a chronicle that we surrounded with pictures of her life as she aged. How do you want your loved one's funeral program to appear? Have an idea of what you want to do and the funeral home will help you find the right printer to do it.

Tips

  • Write the obituary, put it down, and come back to do a final proofread.
  • Get someone else to check behind you--have you put in what it is you want remembered about your loved one?
  • Be aware that the newspapers have reporters that read death notices as they come in. If your loved one did anything newsworthy, be prepared to answer the reporter' s questions.
  • Have a head shot picture available for posting with your notice--a reporter will also ask you for that.

Items you will need

  • Basic Family Facts
  • Computer and Printer

About the Author

This article was created by a professional writer and edited by experienced copy editors, both qualified members of the Demand Media Studios community. All articles go through an editorial process that includes subject matter guidelines, plagiarism review, fact-checking, and other steps in an effort to provide reliable information.

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