Obituary Basics

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Funeral directors at funeral homes have a lot of experience composing obituaries for the loved ones of the families they serve. If your loved one wrote an obituary before they died, then you probably have everything you need to have the funeral home post it.

However, many people do not write their own obituaries, and the task is left to their family members to do. Writing your loved one’s obituary might not be the easiest thing to do emotionally, but if you stick to obituary writing basics, you will be able to create an obituary for them that pays tribute to the life they lived.

The basics of obituaries begin with your loved one’s name, death of death, and city and state where they died. While you may be familiar with seeing obituaries that list both the date of birth and the date of death, it is less commonly done now because of the possibility of identity theft.

The fewer pieces of personal data (like birth dates and street addresses) you include in your loved one’s obituary, the less likely that your loved one will be a target for identity theft. Admittedly, it is sad that, even in death, you have to be so careful, but that is the world we live in.

If your loved one was a woman who was married, you should include her maiden name, so that friends from the community will recognize it and be aware that she has died. If your loved one had a nickname that they were known by in everyday life, you should include that in the obituary as well.

Next, you will want to include the names of close family members – parents, spouse, siblings, children, etc. – who died before your loved one. This list usually starts with the family members who died earliest and ends with the family members who died most recently before your loved one.

After listing close family members who have already died, you will then want to list close family members who are still living and their relationship to your loved one. The names of these family members’ spouses should also be included in parentheses with their names. An example would be John (Jill) Jackson.

Milestone events in your loved one’s life should be listed next. These would include things like military service, marriage, career achievements, and community service. You want to make sure to include the things that mattered most to your loved one in their life. These are the things they would have talked about or would have been very involved with throughout their life.

You will likely have pallbearers for your loved one’s funeral. There are usually six actual pallbearers, but other people can be named as honorary pallbearers. List the names of the six actual pallbearers in your loved one’s obituary, and, if the list is short or a group (like an organization or a company), list the honorary pallbearers too.

The final portion of your loved one’s obituary will contain details about the funeral services. If your loved one is being buried, this portion of the obituary will include dates, times, and locations of visitations and/or viewings, funeral services, and graveside services.

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If your loved one is being cremated, this portion of the obituary will have either the date, time, and location of memorial services – if you have planned them – or a statement that a memorial service will be held at a later date.

If you need help composing obituaries at funeral homes, our empathetic and knowledgeable staff at Hopler & Eschbach Funeral Home can assist you.