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A short Guide for writing an Obituary

An Obituary is an extended notice of death of a person. It is distinguishable from a simple funeral notice in aside from just announcing the death of the person, it also contains an account of his/her life and work. It is then distinguishable from a eulogy in that an obituary is relatively more brief, and unlike eulogies, are usually in the printed form. It can ultimately be said that an obituary is a mediator between a funeral notice and an eulogy, incorporating elements from both.

Writing an obituary can produce undesired results if certain things aren’t taken note of. A good obituary is unique, informative, lively, and moving. It accurately explains the life journey and important events of the person, avoids clich├ęs, and has enough “spirit” to inspire its readers. Remember that an obituary, aside as an announcement, can serve as an important record of the individual.

The first things to look at when writing an obituary are accuracy and completion. This might be considered simple things, but nothing can be more fatal than the glaring mistake of misspelled names, or mistyped year of birth. As basic as this is, the damage caused by overlooking this is also relatively heavy. Ask questions, and proofread. The best way of proofreading is when it’s done on a different day, when there’s time. Rid of all uncertainties and do not take risks.

With that done, keep in mind to distinguish between important informations that can or cannot be included in obituaries. Addresses are usually better left out, as it may suggest an empty house at the time of the funeral, for example.

Then, try to make the obituary much more than a simple notice of death. Aside from just the details of the death and funeral arrangement, give emphasis on the story of the deceased’s life. Prioritize this than donation requests in the obituary, when the space doesn’t suffice.

Give examples of why the person is described as such in the obituary. For example, provide particular events that make the deceased fitting to be called “charitable”. Always try to keep the events and the characteristics linked.

Another important point is to focus on the deceased. Describe him/her in the third-person viewpoint. If the deceased happens to be someone you know, don’t refer to him/her with, for example “mom” or “dad”. Keep references to “he” and “she”. Whenever you need to refer to yourself, use “<name>’s family” or “<name>’s relatives” (if you are not a family or relative of the deceased you should not find any need to refer to yourself in the obituary).

Also do not start an obituary with words such as “with deep regrets” or the likes. Once again, the obituary is not about the people writing it, it is about the deceased.

Those were some things to remember to help make you write obituaries better. Good luck.