Obituary Writing 101: What to Include in an Obituary

Obituary writing may seem simple, but the truth is a well-written obituary can take considerable effort and care. At Stillinger Family Funeral Home in Greenfield, Indiana, we assist families with obituary writing to make their time of grief just a little less stressful. But it does help families to know beforehand what information is typically included in a well-written and meaningful obituary. So, let’s take a closer look:

Obituary Writing for Different Media

In days past, an obituary appeared primarily in the deceased’s hometown newspaper and perhaps in the memorial folder provided to mourners at the funeral or visitation. Modern tributes, however, may include online obituaries that appear on websites for the newspaper and the funeral home, as well as in video tributes, or even on Facebook if posted there by the family. Because of the different natures of these media and their audiences, it might be necessary to craft different versions of an obituary. And because newspapers often charge considerable amounts for lengthier obituaries and the inclusion of photos or other special tributes, it is wise to choose your words carefully.

Obituary Writing Basics

Obviously, every obituary should include the name of the deceased. This might include a nickname if commonly used. Other fundamental details include hometown and city of residence, date of birth, date of death, place of death, and in many cases, the cause of death.

Family connections should be included as well. You’ll want to include names of the deceased’s spouse or partner, parents, siblings, and children (along with their spouses). You can list grandchildren and great-grandchildren, too, of course, although these lists can get quite long in many cases, so it is fine to simply state “many grandchildren and great-grandchildren”. It is also common to list the date or year of marriage or the number of years married. Naturally, if any of the listed family members preceded the loved one in death, this should be noted.

Details of employment, education, military and organizational affiliations are also normally included. Notable honors and achievements can be added, too. And it can be especially meaningful to include hobbies and interests the deceased was passionate about.

Finally, it is important to include the name of the funeral home handling the arrangements, as well as details of the visitation, funeral and/or graveside services. The place of interment should be noted, too. And if memorial contributions are suggested, the designated organizational beneficiaries should be listed (with links in online media).

These are the basics for obituary writing, designed to inform the public, friends and acquaintances of key details. Of course, the tribute can also include anecdotes or personal reflections that help characterize the deceased.

At Stillinger Family Funeral Home, we know that an obituary can only provide fundamental details and attempt to convey the essence of a life well lived. (It is important to note that an obituary can become part of an important genealogical record, as well.) And as part of the caring, thoughtful and meaningful services we provide, obituary writing is ultimately an important service for family, friends and the community. For more information about Stillinger Family Funeral Home, contact us at (317) 462-5536.

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