An obituary is a formal written statement of a deceased person's life. Obituaries are usually published in local newspapers shortly before the funeral is scheduled. Sometimes, portions of an obituary are also read during the funeral service as a way to remember the deceased person.
It is becoming more common for people to prepare their own obituaries as part of their funeral planning efforts. This can be very helpful since it takes some of the stress off the surviving members of the family during what is sure to be a very difficult time. If an obituary was not prepared in advance, however, a friend or close relative is usually charged with the task of preparing the article and making sure it is published in all appropriate newspapers.
If you must prepare an obituary for an upcoming funeral service, it is a good idea to contact the newspapers in which you plan to publish the article before you begin writing. Policies regarding length, proper format, deadlines, and fees can vary somewhat.
An obituary should include the person's full name, date of birth, date of death, and information regarding the time and location of the funeral services. Listing the surviving relatives, including parents, spouses, and children or grandchildren, is also customary. If you are planning to have a memorial fund set up to honor the deceased, including information regarding where to send contributions is appropriate as well. However, don't forget to proofread this information several times before you submit the obituary for publication. You don't want to accidentally misspell someone's name or provide the wrong address for the location of the funeral service.
While death notices are usually rather brief, an obituary generally includes more detail about the deceased person's life. It is common to include where he or she attended school, what degrees were earned, and a short summary of his or her work history. Listing membership in professional associations or describing significant work-related awards may also be appropriate.
Some obituaries include information about the deceased person's community involvement, volunteer work, memorable travels, favorite hobbies, or special interests. This is the part of the obituary where it is acceptable to be creative, so feel free to include whatever information you think is most important to remembering the life of the deceased. If you're having trouble thinking of relevant details to include, try talking to other friends and family members who may have memories they wish to share. Reading sample obituaries, such as those published in The New York Times , may also be useful.