It's important to know how to write an obituary to share in the compelling narrative of the life and accomplishments of a deceased person. A traditional obituary covers many details about a person's life, from birth until death. An obituary, sometimes called a funeral announcement, is also a way for the living to reflect on the attributes, contributions and achievements of someone recently departed. When it comes time to write an obituary, follow these tips.
It's important to know what to include and what to leave out. Before you start writing, assemble all the facts about the person's life, including birth date and year and the names of parents, siblings, spouse and children. Also include facts on their education, military service, occupation and hobbies. Remember that all events should be listed chronologically in an obituary.
Gather any compelling facts about the person's life, such as community service or charitable activities. If space permits, include favorite pets, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Have family members check and double check the accuracy of the information. Many obituaries combine as funeral announcements, so service details should be gathered as well.
Choose Words Carefully
Basic obituary etiquette allows them to be written in the third person, using a mixture of the person's name and a pronoun. Avoid flowery prose that doesn't reveal much about the person's life. Strike a balance between hard facts and poetry to deliver an engaging narrative of the person's life. The tone of the obituary should never be light or frivolous, nor should it be somber and dark. The best obituaries are the ones that focus on the positive aspects of the deceased's life and not the negative impact of their death.
Write Two Versions
Many newspapers have limited space for obituaries, so it's a good idea to write an abbreviated version to be printed. It's appropriate to include information about funeral services at the end of the obituary in the paper. A longer, more detailed version of the obituary (without funeral announcements) can be read at the funeral services, and copies should be given to family members as mementos.
After the obituary has been written, check it again and again for accuracy. It's a good idea to let a few different people read it and make corrections as needed, whether it's to dates, names or general grammatical errors. Family members can also help fill in any missing information and fill in any gaps.
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