How to write a tremendous obituary

Writing a tremendous obituary is a great responsibility but also a very meaningful gesture.

An obituary provides important information about the individual, and also paint a picture of the life they lived.

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Start with the basics

Include the person’s name, birth place, age, date of death, location and cause of death.

From there, go on to include other biographical staples such as whether they got married, had children, details of their careers and retirement.

Also share the names and relationships of who survives the deceased.

Finally, include the details of the memorial service, where to send flowers or donations and any other must-know information for mourners.

The recitation of these details can feel a bit cold and clinical, but it’s important to have the basics down.

Write in the present tense, in letter form and change it later.

Things to think about

What are the first words that come to mind when you think of the person who has died?

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Are there some stories that demonstrate those qualities?

It’s a good idea to talk to other family members to see what other people remember.

Don’t be shy when it comes to recalling funny stories, mishaps or eccentricities. Sometimes those kinds of things best represent a person’s life.

Ask yourself these questions about the person.

  • How would you describe their personality?
  • What did people say most often about him/her?
  • What are some of your favorite memories of him/her?
  • What were their proudest accomplishments?
  • What were their hobbies/favorite things?
  • What was the thing you loved most about him/her?
  • Any foibles/quirks or other personality traits that made them extra special?
  • How would they want to be remembered?

Read the draft obituary out loud to catch any mistakes and check the grammar and look for spelling errors.

Give the draft obituary to a close relative so they can see if they have anything to add or would like to remove. Write down any suggestions they have and try to work them into a new copy of the draft.

Read through some current obituaries to get final ideas.

Choose a happy photo of the person to recognize that they lived a good life.

Rewrite the draft from letter format to a style that “feels right” for the individual being memorialised.

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