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Losing a loved one is one of the most emotionally challenging things we can face in our lives. Writing an obituary can help us memorialize the life and legacy of a special person we lost, as well as create a meaningful, lasting tribute to them in their honor.

As you are grieving and mourning your loss, finding the right words to include in an obituary in a loved one’s memory, as well as communicating the devastating news of their passing isn’t easy. However, creating an obituary is vital in acknowledging and communicating the loss, and in notifying others of important details in regards to their funeral ceremony and services. By writing an obituary, we also get the opportunity to commemorate and tell the world about that special person we’ll always hold dear to us. Beyond all the beautiful and meaningful things conveyed in a well-written and eloquent obituary, an obituary also allows you to pay homage to the life your loved one lived, accomplishments, special relationships, and experiences as well as all of the important things he or she should be remembered for.

Although this is not an easy task, we hope to provide you with some guidance and a point of reference to help you achieve an obituary worthy of every reader’s respect and admiration. Read on to learn everything you need to know to create an obituary for your loved one that does justice to the special and beloved person they were.

What Makes a Great Obituary?

Although the perfect obituary is relative to each family’s traditions and preferences, there are a few key elements you should keep in mind when writing your obituary.  Consider the following recommendations and suggestions when writing an obituary worthy of someone you love and cherished.

Always express the most important facts first.

Beyond any particular details you’d like to add to enrich and enhance your loved one’s obituary, the first step is to cover important basics such as your loved ones’ name, age they were when they passed, date or birth and date of passing, the town residence, etc.  You’ll always want to make sure to share each and every one of these specific details in the most simple and direct way. In the end, this is the kind of information that will be of more value to the surviving family members, future generations as well as other loved ones and friends of the descendant who will be in attendance at the funeral service.

After mentioning and covering these basic, yet necessary components, then you can go on to address the life and legacy of your loved one and the amazing things they should be remembered for.

Write in the present tense. Consider writing in the present tense. An obituary will always convey a somber and impactful message to its readers. As a form of connection and sympathy toward your audience, always write as if you were communicating the news yourself, emphasizing the present tense.

Overall, when writing a great obituary, try to focus on each and every one of the traits and qualities you loved about your loved one, putting emphasis on why these made him or her unique and unforgettable.

Additional tips: 

Try to capture their spirit and essence as you bring their story to life, including their hobbies, favorite places to visit, what they were the proudest of, and anything that creates an impression of who they were while alive. Avoid going too much into unnecessary details. You may also want to consider keeping the nature of the eulogy somber and more of a memoir, keeping humor and witty asides at bay.

The Essential Elements in an Obituary

Announcement of death. Start with a formal and official announcement of death. Anyone who comes across your loved one’s obituary should be able to clearly tell they have passed and that a funeral service will be held.

The full name and age of the deceased. Always mention the deceased’s name and last name, including their birthday to confirm any reader’s doubt whether it is related to the person they’re thinking of or not.

The city and town of residence at the time of death. Always include the town or city of residence at the time of death. However, never include the full address of the deceased.

A brief biography of the deceased. This section involves writing a brief description of the deceased. This is where family members get to write all about their loved one’s qualities and everything that made them unique and special. In this section, family members get to honor and reverent their loved ones, acknowledging everything they’ll miss about them. Many like to include milestones achieved by their loved ones or even anecdotes that tell of their character.

Surviving family members. When writing an obituary, it is customary to list the surviving or predeceased family members. Always list the spouse first, then children in the order they were born. Grandchildren, great-grandchildren, siblings, parents, and in-laws can also be mentioned, all in birth order.

Time and place of service. As a rule of thumb, always include the date and time of service and where it’ll be held.

What Not to Include in an Obituary

Obituaries should never be written in the first person as they’re not a personal tribute. As stated above, avoid including any personal addresses or phone numbers. Also, the cause of death is not necessary, as careers and education are not necessary details to include as well. Including the cause of death is entirely up to you, and always make sure to measure and consider any pros and cons when mentioning it.

Final Thoughts

Beyond all of the recommendations and suggestions we have covered in this quick guide, we would like to remind you to let your heart guide you to create a perfect and meaningful obituary to represent and honor your loved one. We understand losing a loved one is never easy. We have a plethora of resources available to help you through each step of the way. Don’t forget you can also ask for help from a professional writer or even a family member to help you write your loved one’s eulogy.

We hope you found this guide helpful and useful as you get ready to write an obituary for the first time, and ultimately, the life story of that special person you’ll always hold dear and fond in your heart.

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