• Writing an Obituary

How to write an Obituary

If your loved one has just passed away and you are asked to put together an obituary the best question you should ask is, how would you want to be remembered? We’ll start with the basics and then give some examples to get you started.

What is an obituary?

An obituary is a farewell to your loved one, detailing their life and announcing any important information people should know such as any services that are scheduled to take place. Obituaries are often saved as remembrances, so write from the heart and make it is something worthy of a scrapbook and your loved one’s memory.

What should you include?

Start the obituary with the announcement of passing, which will include name, age, location of the deceased, and time / place of death. Announcing the death can be communicated in several ways.

Below are a few examples:

  • Passed away
  • Died
  • Went to be with his Lord
  • After a long struggle with (add illness here)
  • Moved on
  • Surrounded by her family

You do not need to state the cause of death in an obituary, these are details you can keep for immediate family. In the end, use your best judgement and write what you feel comfortable with.

Biographical Information

This is where you will want to recount significant events and universal milestones of your loved ones life.

Here are a few examples:

  • Date and place of birth
  • Date and place of marriage
  • Education & schools attended
  • Place of work
  • Military service
  • Membership in organizations
  • Hobbies or special interests

The more information you include, the easier it is for acquaintances to identify the deceased as someone they may have known.

Survivors and Predeceased Information

It is customary to list family members who have survived the deceased, as well as immediate family members who predeceased him or her, including:

  • Parents
  • Spouse/partner and children
  • Adopted children
  • Stepchildren
  • Siblings
  • Half and step siblings
  • Grandchildren
  • Surviving in-laws
  • Stepparents

These surviving relatives should be listed by name but this is not a legal document so if you don’t feel comfortable including their names you can also refer to them such as: deceased leaves behind three grandchildren, eight nieces, etc.


Include the time, date and address of the scheduled services which may also include the funeral, visitations, burial and memorial service.

For public services, include the funeral’s address, date of service, and time of visitation, memorial or funeral service, and burial. If the service is private, indicate wording such as, “Private services will be held.”


Provide the name, address, and url of a charity or foundation to direct any memorial donations made in honor of your loved one.

Gifts made in lieu of flowers, in memory of a loved one, are an opportunity for friends and family to express their sympathy while supporting a meaningful charity or organization. Memorial gifts are a thoughtful way to help others and make a difference while paying special tribute to your loved one. Click here for information you’ll need to designate the Senator Bob Hooper House as a beneficiary in your loved one’s memorial listing.


Photos are a useful way for readers to recognize our loved one among all the other obituaries and for those who like to keep their loved ones obituaries, it’s a nice inclusion.

Length of Obituary

Consider several different lengths for your obituary:

  • Short one for a paid ad
  • Longer one to give out at a funeral service.

Be sure to ask the local newspaper for appropriate length they recommend. You may also use a longer one to provide background and family history to be posted on a memorial website.

When to publish the obituary in the newspaper

Try to get the obituary to the newspaper as soon as possible, ideally 2 days before the service. This will give your friends and family enough time to make arrangements to attend.

Be safe

Unfortunately, we live in a day and age when people look to prey on the vulnerable so be careful about including information that can be used for identity theft, or that might make someone vulnerable for exploitation. Try to be as thoughtful as you can with as much information as you feel comfortable with, but remember to be careful.

Sample Fictitious Obituary:

DAVIS, Jennifer Elizabeth
It is with great sadness that the family of Jennifer Elizabeth Davis announces her passing after a long struggle with cancer, on Saturday, January 2, 2018, at the age of 63 years. Jennifer will be lovingly remembered by her husband of 22 years, Mark and her 3 children. Jennifer will also be fondly remembered by her three grandchildren, her two sisters, Kristen Jackson and Paula Tills, and by sister-in-law Anne Forbes.

A Funeral Service in memory of Jennifer will be held on Thursday, January 4, 2018 at 1:00 p.m., at the James’s Funeral Home, 111 Main Street, Bel Air, Maryland, with Rev. Frank Wilson officiating. The burial service will follow at Long Trails Cemetery in Forest Hill, Maryland. Memorial donations in memory of Jennifer may be made to Senator Bob Hooper House, 2007 Klein Plaza Drive, Forest Hill, MD 21050.