What is an obituary? More than merely a good-bye, it can be considered a farewell that allows us to read, in chronological order, details of the life of the deceased. Obituaries are also records that will aid future generations in the reconstruction of family histories.

There are several elements to an obituary, which also serves as public notification that an individual has died and provides details of the services that are to take place. The first three items below are often found in the same paragraph. The second paragraph begins with survivors. The final paragraph includes the service arrangements.

  • The name of the individual, including any nickname he or she was known by, and location and date of death so there is no confusion as to who has died.
  • Who the person really was, and what he or she may have accomplished. This is where occupation, schools attended, degrees attained, memberships, military service, favorite hobbies or activities would be described.
  • Usually the names of parents and deceased family members are listed next. Often the surviving spouse is listed here.
  • The next paragraph could include the survivors, such as children, paternal and maternal grandparents, great-grandparents, adopted or step or half children, siblings, etc.
  • The final section includes the service arrangements which are the, who, what, where and when of the service. If a memorial contribution to a charity organization were to be listed, it would go here.

Always have another family member verify the obituary. Use your own discretion and write from the heart.