After the loss of a loved one, family members are often overwhelmed by all of the decisions that have to be made in the midst of their grief. One of the details that has to be taken care of is the writing of the obituary. If you have recently lost a loved one and don’t know where to start with the obituary, you may find the following tips useful. This information will walk you step-by-step through the process of writing a great obituary.

Announce the death: Start off the obituary by announcing the death of the loved one. Provide the name and a very brief description, the age of the deceased, and the day of passing. You can probably squeeze all of this information into one sentence. For example:

On Monday, September 4, 2017, John Doe, loving husband and father of four children, passed away at the age of 74.

Provide general biographical information: Include some biographical information such as birth date, upbringing, education, marriage information, accomplishments, and work history. Be compact and precise with your wording. Try to get as much meaning into as few words as possible.

John was born on July 31, 1943 in Houston, TX to Bob and Jane (Smith) Doe. He received his law degree from the University of Texas in Austin in 1971, and he practiced business law for 31 years in Houston. On May 28, 1975, he married Grace Ann Lewis. They raised two sons, Nick and Joel, and two daughters, Alice and Lisa.

Make it personal: To write a great obituary, it’s important to capture the spirit of the loved one who has passed. Compose a paragraph that describes not only what your loved one did, but also what your loved one was like. Focus on hobbies, passions, and personal characteristics. Remember, newspapers will charge you by line, word, or inch (depending on the publication), so don’t write more than you can afford. A short, factual obituary might be all you need. But if you want to write a special, personalized obituary, include details like this:

John had a passion for painting. He also loved to bird watch, and he combined his two favorite hobbies to create extraordinary art. His paintings of various birds were much admired not only by friends and family, but also by all who frequented the coffee shops where his paintings were displayed. He was also an avid music lover and a collector of Beatles memorabilia. He was known for his quick wit, his infectious smile, and his kind and compassionate spirit.

Listing the family members: While you don’t have to mention every nephew and cousin by name, it’s important to write a general overview of the family members who passed away before the loved one as well as the surviving family. Close family members can be listed by name, and other relatives can be referred to more generally.

John was preceded in death by his father, Bob, and his mother, Jane. He is survived by his wife Grace, his four children, Nick, Joel, Alice, and Lisa, his brother Paul, and several cousins, nieces, and a nephew.

Funeral information: Provide the date, time, and location of the funeral. Also include information regarding donations, flowers, or condolences.

A funeral service will be held on Thursday, September 7th, 2017 at the Church of Christ on Main Street at 1 o’clock p.m. Flowers or donations may be sent to 1234 St. Houston, TX.

Put it all together, and you’ve got a complete obituary.

                                                                          Sample Obituary

On Monday, September 4, 2017, John Doe, loving husband and father of four children, passed away at age 74.

John was born on July 31, 1943 in Houston, TX to Bob and Jane (Smith) Doe. He received his law degree from the University of Texas in Austin in 1971, and practiced business law for 31 years in Houston. On May 28, 1975, he married Grace Lewis Doe. They raised two sons, Nick and Joel, and two daughters, Alice and Lisa.

John had a passion for painting. He also loved to bird watch, and he combined his two favorite hobbies to create extraordinary art. His paintings of various birds were much admired not only by friends and family, but also by all who frequented the coffee shops where his paintings were displayed. He was also an avid music lover and a collector of Beatles memorabilia. He was known for his quick wit, his infectious smile, and his kind and compassionate spirit.

John was preceded in death by his father, Bob, and his mother, Jane. He is survived by his wife Grace, his four children, Nick, Joel, Alice, and Lisa, his brother Paul, and several cousins, nieces, and a nephew. A funeral service will be held on Thursday, September 7th, 2017 at the Church of Christ on Main Street at 1 o’clock p.m. Flowers or donations may be sent to 1234 St. Houston, TX.

Review for mistakes: Check, check, and check again. Once you are satisfied with the finished product, pass it off to a friend or a dispassionate third party for review. Since obituaries are composed during a time of grief, it’s not always easy to keep a clear mind when writing one. It’s always good to get multiple perspectives. When you are sure that the obituary is as good as it can be, send it off for publication.

For examples of unusual and inspirational obituaries, visit these pages:

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