Tips on Writing an Obituary
August 8, 2023
Writing an obituary can be a meaningful way to remember a loved one. Here are 10 simple guidelines to help you create an accurate and positive obituary and ensure it’s submitted correctly. Remember, the obituary is a tribute to the person’s life, so it’s essential to focus on sharing their positive qualities and impact on others.
10 Guidelines for Writing an Obituary
1. Information Gathering:
Begin the process by collecting essential details. The typical obituary consists of three parts: (1) full name, age, birth and death dates, cause of death (if appropriate), place of residence and work, and education; (2) stories that celebrate their life, including personal and professional achievements, hobbies and other significant life events. In How to Write an Obituary, Los Angeles-based poet Victoria Chang says, “Everyone is special and quirky, and I think the best obituaries capture the essence of those qualities about each of us.”; (3) a list of family members and survivors (and relationship to the deceased).
2. Consider the Tone and Style:
Decide on the tone you want to convey – respectful, upbeat, and celebratory. Choose a writing style that reflects the person’s personality and the essence of their life.
3. Write a Draft:
Start by writing a draft that covers critical information and captures the person’s essence. Focus on their accomplishments, values, and impact on others. Keep in mind the length: the average size of an obituary is approximately 200 words, but some publications may accept obituaries as long as 450 words or as short as 50 words.
4. Edit and Review:
Revise the draft for accuracy, clarity, and positivity. Check for errors and ask family members or friends to review and proof for accuracy.
5. Include Service Details:
Mention the details of the funeral or memorial service – date, time, location, and any instructions for donations or flowers.
6. Submit to Funeral Home:
Reach out to the funeral director handling the arrangements and provide them with the obituary. They can guide you through their process and ensure it’s included in the service.
7. Submit to Local Newspaper:
Contact the local newspaper to inquire about their obituary submission process. Some newspapers have online forms or specific guidelines for obituaries. Include the required information and follow their instructions.
8. Consider Online Platforms:
In addition to the local newspaper, you can also publish the obituary on online platforms or the funeral home’s website, if available.
9. Respect Privacy:
Be mindful of sensitive information and ensure you have permission from family members before sharing personal details.
10. Monitor Publication:
Keep an eye on the publication date in the newspaper or online. Make sure the obituary appears as intended and is error-free.
The Arlington Memorial Gardens Team is Here to Help
These are basic guidelines for providing obituary writing tips. Funeral directors are trained and accustomed to obituary writing. Therefore it is always best to consult with the funeral director before drafting the obituary and allowing them to review it before submitting it for publication.
We hope this is a helpful set of guidelines for obituary writing help, but as always, if you have additional questions, please feel free to consult with the Arlington Funeral Home.