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How to write an obituary

This step-by-step guide will explain how to write an obituary and detail all the essential parts, helping you celebrate the life of your loved one and share details about the forthcoming funeral.

What is an obituary?

An obituary, or obit for short, is a news article that announces a person’s death, offering an account of their life and details about the forthcoming funeral.

Obituaries help spread the word that a loved one has sadly passed away and are traditionally published in local or national newspapers, although online obituary notices are becoming increasingly popular.

It’s important to make it interesting; after all, it is a celebration of their life. Depending on where the obituary is being published, you may need to set yourself a word limit as newspapers will often charge you by the word.

How to write an obituary for a loved one

  1. 1. Announce the death

Typically, you should begin the obituary by including the following information about your loved one:

  • Full name
  • Age
  • Place of birth
  • Date of death
  • Place of death

You don’t have to include the cause of death in an obituary if you’re uncomfortable with doing so. If you do choose to share this information, please make sure that you ask the family’s permission first

  1. 2. Recount details about their life

In a concise manner, recount the most significant events and achievements in the deceased’s life. This may include their education, hobbies or contributions to the community. Every single life is unique and this should be reflected in an obituary.

  1. 3. Include surviving family members

It’s customary to include family members and loved ones who have survived the deceased, as well as immediate family members who predeceased your loved one.

  1. 4. Add a special message or poem

Sometimes people choose to include a special message, short prayer or funeral poem at the end of an obituary. This is completely up to you but can be a great way of remembering a loved one.

  1. 5. Choose an appropriate photo

Finally, you may want to include a photo of your loved one, if the publication accepts them. If you do choose to publish a photo, make sure it’s a clear headshot of the deceased and one which they would have been happy with.

Example of an obituary

The following is a fictitious example of an obituary that may be useful if you’re writing an obituary for your loved one.

Mr. Joe Smith

It is with great sadness that the family of Mr. Joe Smith announces his passing after a brief illness, on February 19th 2018, at the age of 75.
Joe passed away peacefully at his home in South London and will be lovingly remembered by his wife of 45 years, Mary, his son James (Lisa) and his two grandchildren, Thomas and Lucy.
Joe taught history at South London Secondary School and was a lifelong Chelsea FC fan and season ticket holder.
The funeral service will be held at South London Crematorium, Rowan Road at 12pm on Sunday 25th February. All are welcome to attend. Please make any charitable donations to The British Heart Foundation.


If you are having trouble getting started, your local Funeral Director will be available to help you write an obituary for your loved one.

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