How To Write An Obituary

A simple checklist for making sure your obituary honors and informs.

An obit, or obituary, is more or less used when a person passes away as a type of news article, reporting their life account. It will frequently also contain information regarding their funeral, burial arrangements, and more.

Related to obituaries, there are a couple of types of paid advertisements:

  • Memorial advertisement – Usually written by friends or family members, occasionally assisted by a funeral home.
  • Death notice – This may be legally required under certain circumstances and usually omits most biographical details.

Sometimes, rather than having friends or loved ones write an obit, people will write their own obituary in preparation for their end-of-life. Today, it’s becoming more and more common to literally plan your entire funeral ahead of time. This is particularly beneficial to the friends and loved ones left behind. It can be very difficult and sometimes emotionally devastating to go through the planning of a funeral after losing someone near and dear to you. Preplanning helps alleviate that stress.

1. The History of Obituaries

At about 59 BCE, in newspapers of ancient Rome, the very first obituaries were published. Death notices and obituaries did not become more prevalent, however, until much later. In the 1600s, some obituaries were written, but they finally became commonplace in the 1800s.

The timing of obituaries can differ, but they are usually designed to come out in enough time that if people want to attend, and they need to take time off of work or to travel, they have enough advanced warning. Whether they will run in a newspaper for one day or more can depend on the publication and the family of the deceased.

2. Composing an Obituary

Obituaries are as unique as the person about whom they are written. In most cases, however, there are some basics that apply. Frequently included in your average obituary are the following:

  • The year and month of birth and death
  • The full name of the deceased (nicknames if desired)
  • Where interment will be, if applicable
  • Where and when the memorial service or funeral will be held
  • Major life events stated chronologically
  • Names of family members, both predeceased and surviving
  • Where charitable donations or flowers can be sent (this is usually left to the discretion of the family or predetermined by the deceased)

So as not to leave the family vulnerable to fraud or theft, the following should not be included in an obituary:

  • Maiden name (this is, however, sometimes included)
  • Complete date of the death and/or birth
  • Home address of the deceased or the family members

3. We Can Help You Plan a Funeral and Write an Obituary

No matter if you're planning a traditional funeral, a simple service of remembrance, a glorious celebration-of-life, or something else, we offer an outstretched hand to those who remain behind after a loved one has passed on. If you need assistance with an obituary, we'll be happy to help you work your way through it.

You see, at American Heritage Cemetery Funeral Home Crematory, we see ourselves as so much more than just a funeral home – we consider ourselves a place for the community to gather. This is a place where all are welcome to celebrate life and honor memories.

When someone close to you dies, it can be the hardest time of your life. We understand. We are here to offer compassion, guidance, and assistance. Because every person is special, they are worthy of honor and their very own end-of-life celebration.

Contact us today at American Heritage Cemetery Funeral Home Crematory to discuss details, ask questions, or set up an appointment.

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