More than merely a 'good-bye' to the deceased, this farewell is a summary of events and details listed in chronological order. An obituary also serves as notification that an individual has passed away and details of the services that are to take place.
What is included in an obituary?
Naturally, it is vital that the full name, along with the location and date of death is included so that there is no confusion over who has died. You may wish to consider placing a photograph. There are usually extra charges applied if you include a photograph. If you wish, mention where the deceased resided. This will normally only include the city, and state.
In a concise manner, write about the significant events in the life of the deceased. This may include the schools he or she attended and any degrees attained; you may also include any involvement of vocations or interests of deceased.
It is common to include a list of those who have survived the deceased. The list should include (where applicable):
- Children and their spouse
- Adopted children and their spouse
- Half & step children and their spouse
- Siblings and their spouse
- Half & step siblings and their spouse
The surviving relatives listed above may be listed by name. Other relatives will not be mentioned by name but may be included in terms of their relationship to the deceased. In other words, the obituary may mention that the deceased had 5 grandchildren, 7 nieces etc. However, exceptions to the above rule can be made if, for example, the deceased only had one grandchild or a nephew who was the only person living in the newspaper's distribution area. These exceptions are obviously made based on each individual case.
At this point list the details of the time and location of any services for the deceased: these may include the funeral, burial, wake and memorial service where appropriate.
Some Do's & Dont's
If you do not know where to start, do read other obituaries to gain an idea of how personal and touching an obituary may be.
Do use such terms as "visitation will be from" or "friends may call from". Do not utilize the phrase "lie in state" as that only applies to a head of state such as the prime minister or president.
Do consider if you wish to send the obituary to newspapers in other cities for example: to a town where the deceased may have resided previously. Obtain copies of the obituary to send to distant relatives and friends.
All information to be included in the obituary should be verified with another family member. A newspaper will have to verify with the funeral home being utilized that the deceased is in fact being taken care of by that funeral home.