An obituary is a brief description of a deceased person’s life, and usually, the arrangements for that person’s burial or other memorial services. An obituary is usually published in a newspaper to allow family and friends to know the person has died.
Most newspapers charge to list an obituary, but some do not. If the newspaper does not charge a fee, then the person submitting the obituary needs to make sure it fits the newspaper’s length limits and includes only the information the paper will print. If the obituary is paid, then the writer is free to list as much information as he or she wishes, keeping in mind that newspapers may charge by the word, the line, or per column inch.
An obituary is more than just a notice of death. The dates, names and other information it contains could be valuable to someone researching family or community history. The obituary should then contain pertinent and personal information.
Anyone writing an obituary should first make sure all dates are correct insofar as they can be confirmed. The birth, marriage and death dates, graduation year, etc., should all be double-checked for accuracy. Families are grieving at this time and need to make sure they have the right information. The second thing to check is the spelling of names. Misspelled names can cause untold hurt feelings, and these should always be confirmed.
A person should write down some facts about the deceased loved one, such as where he went to high school, community activities, hobbies and interests. These can be woven into an obituary that is personal and meaningful to family and friends.
The first paragraph of an obituary should always include the loved one’s date and place of death, including the year, and where funeral services will be held. Requests for memorial donations can be right after this paragraph, or they can come at the end of the obituary.
The next paragraph should include birth date and place, parents’ names, information about education and employment. Any other personal information may be included in the next paragraph. The final paragraph should contain names of survivors and pallbearers, if desired.
The main thing to check when writing an obituary is accuracy. When information is accurate, it is easier on everyone in the family.