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How To Write An Obituary

A simple checklist for making sure your obituary honors and informs.

When a loved one has passed away, writing an obituary that honors their life can seem overwhelming. Don’t worry – your obituary will honor their life simply by the act of you writing it. You want to celebrate your loved one’s life and offer happy or enjoyable memories. You are helping to ease the pain of others simply by telling a story about your loved one.

We hope that this checklist will take the stress and pressure off of you and allow you to honor your loved one simply. Remember, your funeral arranger is an experienced professional, and he/she is a valuable resource for writing the obituary.

1. Include all the basic details about the person’s life.

You don’t have to include all of this information, but here are the basics that are often included in an obituary. Choose the elements that are most relevant to your loved one:

  • Age
  • Any familial survivors
  • Education
  • Vocation
  • When the person retired, if relevant
  • Any military affiliations
  • Any volunteer affiliations

2. Include funeral information.

Family and friends often rely on an obituary for information on when and where a person’s life will be celebrated, so your obituary will make it very simple for them to get that information (and will save you the hassle of having to answer lots of questions at a time when you would prefer not to be bothered with small details). You can include:

  • Date and time of the funeral
  • Place the funeral is being held
  • Any viewing details
  • Requests for donations in lieu of flowers

How To Write a Eulogy

1. Interview family and friends

Don’t feel that the complete weight of remembering your loved one is on your shoulders. Instead, ask family members or friends to share their stories of your loved one. This process itself can be very cathartic, as the act of remembering and sharing can help in the healing process itself.

2. Tell a story (or stories)

Everyone at the service will appreciate your personal memories of your loved one. Don’t worry about remembering each detail, perfectly; just share the details that matter to you. To think about a good story, try out some of these prompts:

  • What’s a favorite memory you have?
  • What made them laugh?
  • What was their proudest moment in life?
  • What did they most enjoy?
  • What’s a little known fact about your loved one?

These questions will help you to remember some enjoyable stories and can serve as a jumping off point.

3. Don’t think about it as public speaking

Sure, you might be speaking in front of a lot of people. But, no one is judging you or analyzing what you’re saying. They’re simply listening and appreciating, and thinking about their own personal connection to the deceased. However, if you want to feel more confident while delivering your lines, it can be helpful to write everything down in case you experience a moment of nerves up there, as we all often do.

4. Keep it brief

Share as much as you want to share, but don’t feel that you have to overburden yourself with pages of stories. Choose the one or two that are most meaningful to you, and you’ll have a eulogy that truly does justice in celebrating your loved one.

5. Read it out loud

Before the service, read the speech out loud to yourself or to a trusted family member or friend. They’ll help calm any nerves, make any suggestions about what resonates the most with them or pick out any particularly inspirational elements to focus on further.

6. Humor heals

It’s OK, and perfectly acceptable, to be funny or tell a humorous story in a eulogy. At a time that brings sadness to many people, it is important and hugely helpful to be celebrating a life well lived with funny memories and entertaining anecdotes.

7. Take a deep breath

Finally, relax. It can be difficult given all that you’re going through right now, but be at peace knowing that you’re honoring and celebrating your loved one.

Looking for some inspiration of what others in your situation wrote when they were in your shoes? Here are some examples of some truly inspiring words written in honor of deceased celebrities. And just remember, speak what you feel and your eulogy will turn out perfectly.


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Justen A. Wright, C.F.S.P. Manager/Owner
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