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Celebrating a Life: Blog

    How to Write a Meaningful Obituary

    Posted by Mark Busch August 18, 2016

    9355090806_80b6faabc7_z.jpgWhile there are elements of an obituary that people expect to see, such as funeral arrangements and possible memorial donation requests, there are certain characteristics that can make an obituary more meaningful.

    Honor your loved one by telling a story through their obituary. This may sound overwhelming, and you may be unsure where to start. Luckily, we’ve outlined a few ideas to make this emotional process easier for you so that you can write the obituary your loved one deserves. You may also want to consider taking a look at BeRemembered.com, which will assist you in crafting your loved one’s biography.

    General Information to Include in an Obituary

    Before we help you through the writing process, there are a few things you should remember to include in your loved one’s obituary.

    • Make sure you have a full record of immediate family, and that every name is spelled correctly.
    • Include and verify all dates, times and locations of services.
    • If you have set up a memorial donation, check donation details to be sure funds are not sent elsewhere.
    • Thank those who took care of your loved one in his or her final days, if there was anyone who showed special dedication.
    • Provide details on where to call for more information, even if no service is planned. Old friends may need someone to get in touch with for confirmation or further understanding.

    Take a look at online templates and checklists of commonly used information in obituaries for inspiration.

    Writing Your Loved One’s Story

    Once you’ve gathered and confirmed the information on family members, service arrangements and other pertinent information, it’s time to form the story of your loved one’s life. This can be daunting, but we’ll walk you through the process with the following tips.

    • Think of six words that sum up your loved one’s life. This will help you begin to shape your narrative and narrow your focus. These words could form a phrase, or be a string of six words that described his or her energy, outlook or life events.
    • Jot down events and accomplishments from your loved one’s life that support your chosen words. This will allow you to show, rather than tell. For example, if your loved one was caring, think of a time when he or she exhibited this care. This could be through his or her life’s work, regular volunteering, etc.
    • Using these notes, choose the most important events and accomplishments and support these details with meaningful anecdotes. Try to avoid simply listing the chronology of his or her life.
    • Keep the spotlight on your loved one, not the author or family. Refer to your loved one by his or her name, not “grandma” or “mom.” Also, avoid writing about the family’s feelings.
    • Avoid the details of his or her death. A meaningful obituary should highlight the details of a life, rather than how your loved one passed.
    • Select a recent photograph so that it is easy for friends to identify him or her. You can also consider adding a second photograph from a different time in your loved one’s life.
    • Consider where the obituary is posted. Remember that newspapers charge based on length for death notices. Though, online obituary platforms may allow for unlimited content.
    • For ideas on how to select obituary photographs, explore this resource from Getty Images.

    These tips can apply to everything from newspaper and online obituaries, as well as what to include in a memorial or funeral program. 

    Although writing an obituary during a time of grief can seem overwhelming, remember that you have caring experts who can help you. Your funeral director can be a supportive source for guidance and advice.

    How Your Funeral Director Can Help

    Your funeral director will be with you every step of the way. He or she not only handles the proper care of your loved one but of you and your family through your time of grief. He or she has experience helping families craft obituaries and can be a helpful resource when creating a meaningful placement.

    Busch is Northeast Ohio’s preferred choice for burial, cremation and preplanning services. Contact us to learn how Busch can assist you and your family.

    Contact Busch

    Image via Flickr Fredrik Rubensson

    Topics: Grief Support

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