An obituary is not a legal document, and it’s not required. However, taking the time to write an obituary for your loved one is a lovely way to honor the deceased. Besides recording the important details of your loved one’s life, it allows you to share the memorial service details with others who may want to attend. 

Writing a Funeral Obituary: Step-By-Step

Sometimes a member of the immediate family writes the obituary, and other times the funeral director may complete the task with the help of the survivors. 

If you are new to writing obituaries, here are some ideas for completing this unique piece of writing.

Step 1: Gather information. 

An obituary usually contains facts and personal details about the deceased, such as their birth date and birthplace, education, military service, and names of survivors. Early during the writing process, you may need to search through records or ask family members to discover key details you need for the article.

Step 2: Choose what to share about the deceased. 

Talk with other close family members and friends about which details you should include in the obituary.

Some families choose only to include the necessary information if the obituary will be published in the local paper – as there is typically a per-word charge to publish an obituary. However, if the obituary is shared online or printed in the funeral bulletin, there may be no length restrictions.

While modern obituaries often include personal characteristics and vital information, remember that obituaries are different from eulogies or tributes. 

Step 3: Write a draft of the obituary.

Here’s a simple outline to help you write your first draft.

  • Identification of the Deceased 
    • Full name of the deceased, including a nickname and maiden name
    • Age at death
    • Residence at death (for example, the name of the city) 
    • Date of death
    • Place of death
    • Cause of death (optional)
  • Key Details
    • Date and place of birth
    • Names of parents (including mother’s maiden name)
    • Names of siblings (or include this in the list of survivors or those who proceeded in death)
    • Marriage details
    • Education and/or details about military service
    • Marriage details
    • Jobs/careers
    • Hobbies, interests, or activities
    • Community groups
    • Achievements, awards, and other recognition
  • Family Members
    • Survived by:
      • Spouse
      • Children and their spouses
      • Grandchildren
      • Great-grandchildren
      • Great-great-grandchildren
      • Parents
      • Grandparents
      • Siblings and their spouses
      • Others, such as nephews, nieces, cousins, in-laws
      • Friends
      • Pets
    • Predeceased By: 
      • Spouse
      • Children 
      • Grandchildren
      • Siblings (in order of date of birth)
      • Other extended family members
  • Funeral Service Information
    • Funeral arrangements, including the day, date, time, and place
    • Other memorial details, including visitation, graveside service, or reception 
    • Place of interment
    • Name of the funeral home in charge of arrangements
    • Memorial fund information

memorial service

Step 4: Have other family members or trusted friends read your draft and offer suggestions.

You may be the best writer in the world but struggle to write the details of a person’s life in as few words as possible. It can be an emotional task – especially for close family members.

If you have time, allow your draft to sit overnight, as many people remember details to include later. Then, have a trusted family member or friend look at your draft for errors in facts or grammar. 

Receive Expert Help with Funeral Planning

Alabama Funeral Homes and Cremation Centers will help you create a meaningful tribute for your loved one. We know how difficult it is to manage tasks when grieving a loss.

Our team will take care of all the details, ensuring family members can find the obituary in Alabama and the funeral goes smoothly. Contact a staff member any time, day or night, for immediate service. 

Writing an Obituary: Final Thoughts

  • Gather information about the important events in your loved one’s life.
  • Look at sample obituaries and decide what you will share about the deceased.
  • Write a draft.
  • Have several other people read your draft and offer suggestions.