6 Tips to Writing the Perfect Obituary
“Write what should not be forgotten.” – Isabel Allende
After the death of a loved one, there can be many overwhelming decisions to be made in the midst of our grief. One of the first duties, and most challenging, is to tackle writing the obituary.
If you’re not sure where to start, here is a step-by-step process to writing an obituary that honors the deceased.
- Death announcement
You’ll want to start the obituary with announcing the death. This should include the deceased’s full name (including maiden or nick names), age, where they resided, and date and location of death. Including a cause of death is optional. This information is brief and likely contained within one sentence.
- Provide key biographical and life event details
This section is generally longer but best written in a concise style. You may want to turn to friends and family members for information that can help you craft this section in a unique and personal style that best reflects the person’s life. Jog people’s memories with questions like, “What words come to mind about this person?” or “What story best reveals who they were?”. This can add colorful bits to the obituary from memorable stories.
Asking yourself questions about your loved one can also help you craft a personable obituary such as: How would you describe their personality? What quirks did they have? What is a favorite memory you have of them? What were they most proud of?
Bear in mind that print or online newspapers can charge you by line, word, or inch. A short, factual obituary might be all you need. However, if you want to write a personalized obituary, here are some details to include:
- Date and place of birth and other locations lived, if applicable
- Spouse’s name and years of marriage
- Schools attended and degrees earned
- Major employers or business and any key titles held
- Organizations or memberships they were involved in
- Special hobbies or interests
- Military service and rank
- Outstanding accomplishments
- List family members
If you have a large family, this can seem overwhelming. However, you don’t need to mention every extended family member. You can simply mention immediate and close family by name. This also includes family members who may have preceded your loved one in death. Other relatives can be mentioned in general terms. For example, the deceased may have had many grandchildren, and this can be listed as the total number instead of by each name.
- Funeral service information
This is where you’ll include the date, time, and location of the service. Be sure you’re specific with events. For example, the visitation may be held at a different place than the funeral or the service may be a private event held only for immediate family. Being specific as possible will eliminate any confusion.
- Donations or Flower Information
You and your family may decide to ask for donations to a charity in lieu of flowers. This organization can be one that the deceased was involved in, a favorite charity of theirs, or related the illness they may have died from. Either way, it’s a chance to include a cause that would have been meaningful to your loved one.
- Choose a Photo
Select a favorite photo of your loved one to be included in the obituary. Make sure the photo is a good headshot, clear and within recent years if possible.
Writing an obituary for someone you love can be an emotional task. Look to others to help with information and search online for obituaries to provide ideas. See a sample below on how all this information can come together.
SUNEIL COOPER BECKLEY
Suneil Cooper Beckley, 79, of Boiling Spring Lakes, passed away on April 13th after a valiant 10-year-battle with malignant melanoma. She was born in Stanford, KY, on April 11th, 1930, and was the daughter of Ethel Mae and Wesley Armstrong Cooper. She left behind her loving husband of 51 years, R. Donald Beckley, daughter, Donna Galanti (Michael), and grandson, Joshua Cooper Galanti, of Doylestown, PA. Other survivors include her brother Chester Cooper, and wife Ruby, and three special nephews, Mark and Mike Whitler and Jerry Cooper and many beloved cousins.
She was a friend to all who met her and was an active member locally in The Red Hat Society, Shallotte Women’s Bowling League, a Mahjong club and several bridge clubs. During their 51 years of marriage, Suneil and Don lived in NY, NH, MD, OH, and England. They enjoyed traveling to Europe and across America on many adventures.
Services will be held Saturday, April 18th at 2pm, at: Full House Gospel of Prayer, 3127 George II Highway, Southport, NC. Followed by a personal remembrance reception from 3-5pm at: The Lakes Country Club, 591 South Shore Drive, Southport, NC.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to Lower Cape Fear Hospice Foundation at: 1414 Physicians Drive, Wilmington, NC 28401 or online at: hospiceandlifecarecenter.org OR The Zimmer Cancer Center, New Hanover Regional Medical Center, 2131 S. 17th Street, Wilmington, NC 28401 or online at: nhrmc.org
Online condolences at StarNewsOnline.com