Writing an Obituary

An obituary is a notice in a newspaper of a death and funeral arrangements, but it can be much more. It can be a factual record of what a person did during their life. It can include a record of the deceased's extended family, past and present. At its best, an obituary tells a compelling story about a life.

Essential Information

  • Full legal name, and nickname (if commonly used)
  • Age at death
  • City and state of residence at death
  • Date and place of death
  • Date and place of birth
  • Parents' names
  • Education and degrees awarded (schools, college, university, other)
  • Military service, branch of service, war or conflict, where stationed
  • Occupation(s)
  • Places of residence
  • Marriage(s): spouse's name, date and place of marriage
  • Survived by (and their places of residence):
    • Spouse
    • Children (in order of date of birth, and their spouses)
    • Grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren (names or number of each)
    • Parents
    • Grandparents
    • Siblings (in order of date of birth)
  • Predeceased by:
    • Spouse
    • Children (in order of date of birth)
    • Grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren (names or number of each)
    • Parents
    • Grandparents
    • Siblings (in order of date of birth)
  • Time, date and place of memorial service, funeral, visitation, vigil, prayer service, wake, celebration of life or other event (if the public is invited)
  • Name and location (city and state) of funeral home

Optional Information To Include

  • Cause of death
  • Other survivors, such as aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, cousins, in-laws, close friends
  • Pets
  • Organizations, clubs, favorite charities
  • Religious affiliations
  • Awards, honors
  • Hobbies, passions
  • Ancestry and family lore
  • Unusual or interesting personality traits, attributes or experiences
  • Favorite saying, poem, quote
  • Thank you to individuals or organizations
  • Memorial contribution suggestions (with addresses)