What is an obituary?

14 September 2018 • Planning advice

What is an obituary?

What is an obituary?

Everyday, hundreds of obituaries are published. They’re a staple of the papers everywhere. 

But more than treating obituaries as the most common part of a daily read, its ordinariness is more than announcing the passing of a loved one.

Obituaries are usually skipped especially when the deceased is not familiar in its name. 

More than the names that we usually see, obituaries tell so much about the life of the deceased and how it was well lived.

What obituaries are not...

Before discussing what obituaries are, it’s important to understand what they aren’t. We don’t blame you if you don’t know - not everyone has ever faced having to write one.

1) Obituaries are not death notices 

They say that funerals are for the living to celebrate the deceased. Similarly, obituaries are also for the living.

Obituaries serve to publicly notify everyone about the death of a cherished family member or friend. But it doesn’t mean that it’s all about death.

Rather, they’re all about memorialising the life they led and the lives they touched along the way.

In short, they’re a celebration of a life well-lived, more than the nature of their passing.

2) Obituaries are not always sad 

How to write an obituary

Some skip the obituaries because they don’t want their day to start off on a low note.

We understand - but just because the reason for writing an obituary is sombre doesn’t mean the obituary itself has to be.

Like we mentioned above, obituaries are a celebration of the deceased and their life. And wouldn’t you agree that most of us strive to live the happiest, richest, and most fulfilling lives?

The best obituaries are the onest that don’t just inform, but embody the spirit of the deceased in their text. Obituaries can contain poems, anecdotes, and even jokes depending on the personality of the deceased.

3) Obituaries don’t have to be a stagnant announcement

Don’t treat obituaries as just a public announcement with the details about memorial services and the deceased’s life.

No two people are the same. As such, no two obituaries are the same either.

Every life has a story behind it, and the job of an obituary writer is to present that story to readers.

It’s all about the deceased - there’s no law saying you need to follow the same formula. 

Include whatever you need to properly reflect the type of life they led.

What’s in an obituary?

Beautiful obituary template

Many people may not have experienced writing an obituary for a loved one. If you have, though, you know that is can be challenging, especially when emotions are particularly heightened. 

While the contents of an obituary will vary depending on the personality of the deceased, the fundamentals of an obit remain the same.

If you’re struggling to put pen to paper, here are a couple of things that your obituary can feature.

Public announcement of the deceased

Publishing a death announcement

While obituaries aren’t about death, there’s no denying that’s part of it.

The passing of a loved on is a traumatic and unpleasant time.

Once again, the exact approach to announcing it depends on on you, the deceased, and what you feel is appropriate.

Many choose to broach the subject with tact, using poetic language, while others present more matter-of-fact wording.

A biography for the deceased

Writing a life story timeline

Think of obituaries as a mini biography - you’ll want to feature life events big and small.

Additionally, it’s also a place to celebrate what was important to the deceased. Share their influences, causes, passions and profession - in addition to memorialising the deceased, these also help paint a picture of them to readers.

If you’re struggling to put your thoughts into words, it might be worth looking at it from a different angle:

For example, some of the most powerful obituaries are written as anecdotes or stories. This obituary published by the ABC is one such example.

Finally, finish off with acknowledgement of the deceased’s family.

Creating an online memorial page

Like we mentioned above, obits are meant to be read by the living - it’s fitting to cap it off (or open with) an acknowledgement of the deceased’s relatives.

Service information and special requests

Date, location, time, visitation, burial… obituaries often include details of services, viewings, memorials and wakes.

if you’re holding a public service, this information provides members of the public the information they need to offer their condolences.

Even if it’s a private service, it’s considered convention to include a quick notice. Something simple like “private services will be held” will get the job done.

If the deceased had a particular cause they were partial to, consider including a request for donations under special requests. You may also like to include words of comfort in a prayer, poem, or quote.

Create online obituaries and memorials that last forever

Browse and create online obituaries

Skymorials helps you create beautiful online memorials and tributes for your loved ones.

Using the power of the internet, we provide an open, respectful community where friends and family members can come together and share the memories of their deceased.

Our online platform ensures that the legacy of your loved one is accessible and remembered long after the morning paper is thrown out in the evening.

Leave everlasting memories that will memorialise the life of your loved one forever. Follow the links below to:

  • Create an online obituary
  • Post an online tribute

How to create an online memorial webpage

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