How to Write an Obituary

Writing an obituary can be a very difficult task. Written at a time of overwhelming loss, coming up with the right words to honor a loved and to sum up the decedent’s life can be daunting. The words of an obituary will be read by many, both in print form in a newspaper and through online resources for a long time to come. In many instances there is concern about what facts and what personal information should be included. While obituaries at one time were very straightforward with just basic information included only date of birth and death, names of loved ones left behind and service information, in recent times obituaries have come to include much more. Details of a life lived, contributions made and even quotes by loved ones are now a part of an obituary if the writer wishes to include.

To make the obituary as personal as possible dig into your own memory as well as consulting other family members and friends of the deceased for information that will keep the deceased alive in memory. What hobbies, passions, interests, etc. brought joy to this person? Consider including these personal aspects of the deceased in the obituary.

The following is a list of information that can be included in an obituary:

  • full name
  • residence (town/city)
  • date of death, age at death
  • birth place
  • reason for death or location at death
  • occupation and or military service
  • hobbies/passions
  • who the decedent is survived by
  • services information
  • flowers/contribution details

An example obituary:

Mr. Joseph R. Donovan of Albany, N.Y.passed away on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013 with his family by his side. He was 66 years old.

Born in Edison, N.J. on August 1, 1947, Joseph previously lived in Mt. Sinai, N.Y. and Lakewood, N.J. Joseph served his country in the U.S. Navy from 1967 to 1971. He was a recipient of the Bronze Star Medal. He worked 20-plus years at AT&T, and was also employed by Hess Corporation. Joseph loved his country and was a hard-working man.

Joseph was a devoted husband who loved traveling the country with his wife, Ann and as they were growing up, their 3 children. A die hard Jets fan, Joseph enjoyed football card collecting and had a passion for collecting sports memorabilia. Photography and painting were his other loves.

A devoted family man, Joseph spent as much time with his wife, his 3 children and his 8 grandchildren as possible. Joseph was predeceased by his parents John and Edna Donovan, and his brother, Paul Donovan. He is survived by his wife, Ann, 3 children, Joseph Jr., Jack and wife, Nancy, Jennifer and husband Max. Joseph is also survived by 8 grandchildren: Jack Jr., Henry, Aiden, Kailey, Jessica, Joseph, Paul, Brianna.

Jack, Joseph’s son, said of his father, “My Dad was there for anyone that needed help. Whether it be his family, a neighbor, a friend, he was there. He will be truly missed everyday by all of us.”

Services for Mr. Donovan will be on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, at 11 a.m. at the Grace Funeral Home, 1 Candor Way, Albany, N.Y., followed by a graveside service at Our Holy Cemetery, Albany, NY. Visitation will be today from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, contributions to The American Cancer Society would be greatly appreciated.

When writing an obituary the most important aspect to consider is the deceased. During this difficult time, take a moment to consider this person’s wishes. How would he or she like to be remembered? It is with this in mind that you should write, as these are the written words that will be preserved of your loved one.