Do You Know the Secrets to Writing the Perfect Obituary?

By: VGFS
Monday, February 22, 2021

The obituary represents an opportunity to immortalize your loved one’s life story.

When a cherished person passes away, this task usually falls to bereaved family members. You may feel overwhelmed by the responsibility or you might be concerned that you won’t say the right things. These feelings are not uncommon, but in truth, drafting an obituary is a wonderful opportunity to capture your loved one’s memory in a beautiful and special way. Think of it as a chance to pay homage to your beloved with a meaningful final farewell. Read on for some tips to help you create a touching written tribute.

Start by compiling pertinent information. Common details that are woven into an obituary include:

  • Name of the departed (including maiden name and nicknames)
  • Dates and locations of birth, marriage, and passing
  • Schools attended
  • Place of employment and position held
  • Military service and status
  • Organization affiliations or membership (religious, civic groups, etc.)
  • Interests and hobbies
  • Cause of death (if you wish to include this information)
  • Family members who are predeceased and names of surviving loved ones (typically immediate family and partners or companions only)
  • Funeral or memorial service details if open to the public, including the date, time, and location
  • One or two charities people should donate to in honor of the deceased instead of sending flowers if you wish. You can use the phrase "in lieu of flowers" when memorial donations are requested. State the charity’s name and address or include a link to the organization’s website.
  • Special messages, such as a beloved bible verse or a meaningful line from a favorite poem
  • A photo of the departed

Accuracy matters.

Correctness and completeness when drafting your loved one’s obituary cannot be stressed enough. You only have one chance to write your loved one’s final tribute so check and double-check your facts. Names can easily be misspelled, dates can be incorrect, and key information can be missed. The best way to ensure accuracy is to proofread your document carefully several times. It’s also a good idea to have at least one other family member review the obituary before submitting it.

Tell a story.

While you need to include basic relevant information, you also want the obituary to be an engaging narrative. A long list of boring facts isn’t going to do much to generate interest in your loved one. Take time to think about favorite stories and fond memories you could share to shed light on your beloved’s personality and interests. You want readers to see who your loved one was, how they lived, and what they enjoyed.

Don’t be afraid to request input from others.

Ask family members, friends, and others who were close to your loved one for favorite memories or anecdotes that may be worth including in the obituary. In your grief, you may forget crucial details that should be included, so involving others can be a wonderful way to make sure no important information is overlooked. 

Write from your heart.

The most honest and potent impact you can make when drafting an obituary is by writing the way you speak. Skip the flowery language and clichés. Instead, keep it real. If you make your obituary open, honest, and respectful, you can’t go wrong.

Obituaries are an important way of remembering the people who meant the most to us.

They also pay tribute to the departed by sharing with the world the unique attributes and characteristics that made them so special. While many templates and step-by-step guides exist for writing an obituary, feel free to use your creativity. The most moving obituaries are often the ones that are the most original.

If you need help with the details related to a loved one’s passing or have funeral planning needs, our compassionate funeral directors are here to assist you. Please reach out to us anytime.

About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For 25 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. For more information, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at https://vaughncgreene.com/.

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