Writing an Obituary

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Writing an Obituary

Writing an Obituary

Writing an obituary can be a challenging task as it involves capturing the essence of a person’s life in a concise and respectful manner. It serves as a final tribute that reflects their accomplishments, passions, and impact on others. This article provides a step-by-step guide on how to write an obituary that honors and commemorates a loved one.

Key Takeaways:

  • Writing an obituary is an opportunity to celebrate a person’s life and legacy.
  • An obituary should include essential details such as the person’s full name, date of birth, date of death, and surviving family members.
  • Consider highlighting significant accomplishments and memorable moments in the individual’s life.
  • It is important to create a tone that is respectful and reflective of the person’s personality and character.
  • Proofread and edit the obituary carefully before publishing to ensure accuracy and clarity.

Structure of an Obituary

An obituary typically follows a specific structure to ensure it covers the essential information and provides a comprehensive view of the person’s life. The structure may include:

  1. Announcement: Begin by announcing the individual’s full name, date of birth, and date of death.
  2. Biographical Information: Provide a summary of the person’s life, including details about their early life, education, career, and achievements.
  3. Surviving Family Members: List the names of immediate family members who have survived the individual, including spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, and siblings.
  4. Funeral or Memorial Service Details: Include information about the upcoming funeral or memorial service, including the date, time, location, and any special instructions.
  5. Final Thoughts and Closing: End the obituary with a personal message, reflection, or favorite quote that encompasses the person’s life and impact.

Important Content to Include

While the structure provides a guideline, it is crucial to include specific content that highlights the person’s life and leaves a lasting impression. Consider including the following:

  • Accomplishments: Mention significant achievements in the person’s personal and professional life, such as career milestones, awards, or community involvement.
  • Passions and Hobbies: Highlight activities and interests that brought joy to the individual, whether it was a love of music, sports, art, or volunteering.
  • Memorable Moments: Share anecdotes or stories that showcase the person’s personality, humor, or impact on others.
Sample Obituary

John Doe

June 1, 1950 – July 15, 2022

John Doe, age 72, passed away peacefully surrounded by his family. He was born on June 1, 1950, in New York City. John dedicated his life to teaching and inspired countless students during his 40-year career as an educator at Lincoln High School. His passion for literature and art shaped the lives of many individuals.

John is survived by his loving wife of 50 years, Jane Doe, his two children, Michael and Sarah, and five grandchildren. He will be dearly missed by all who knew him.

A memorial service will be held on July 20, 2022, at Lincoln High School Auditorium at 10:00 am. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the local literacy foundation in John’s memory.

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Writing Style and Tone

When crafting an obituary, it is important to maintain an appropriate and respectful writing style. Consider the following tips for setting the right tone:

  • Be Objective and Factual: Present the information in a factual manner, avoiding exaggeration or overly emotional language.
  • Reflect the Individual’s Personality: Capture the essence of the person in the obituary by infusing the writing with their unique qualities, such as their humor, kindness, or determination.
  • Keep It Concise: While including important details, keep the obituary concise and to the point so that it remains engaging for readers.
Common Mistakes to Avoid Writing Tips
  • Poor grammar and spelling errors
  • Excessive personal details
  • Lack of proofreading
  • Failure to include essential information
  • Proofread the obituary multiple times
  • Focus on significant details and avoid unnecessary information
  • Ask someone else to review and edit the obituary
  • Double-check dates, names, and other factual information

Finalizing and Publishing

Once you have written the obituary, take the time to read it aloud and make necessary revisions before publishing it. Consider sharing the obituary through various channels, such as:

  1. Newspapers or online obituary platforms
  2. Social media accounts of the deceased or family members
  3. Church bulletins or community newsletters
  4. Email distribution to friends, colleagues, and acquaintances

By sharing the obituary widely, you allow others to join in honoring the memory of the departed.

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Common Misconceptions about Writing an Obituary

Common Misconceptions

Obituary Writing is Always Sad and Depressing

Many people believe that writing an obituary is always a somber and depressing task. However, it is important to remember that an obituary is a celebration of someone’s life and serves as a way to honor their memory. It can include joyful anecdotes, memorable moments, and highlight the positive impact they had on others.

  • Obituaries can be filled with heartwarming stories and happy memories.
  • An obituary can be an opportunity to share uplifting messages about the departed.
  • An obituary can provide comfort to the grieving by focusing on the person’s accomplishments and the love they had for others.

Obituaries are Only Written by Professionals

Contrary to popular belief, obituaries are not exclusively written by professionals. While some families may choose to seek assistance from funeral homes or professional writers, it is indeed possible for anyone to write an obituary for a loved one. It is a personal and heartfelt tribute that can reflect the unique relationship and memories shared with the deceased.

  • Family members or close friends can write an obituary to ensure a personal touch.
  • Writing an obituary by yourself can be a therapeutic and healing experience.
  • Many people find solace in gathering memories from various family members and crafting a collective obituary.

An Obituary Must Include Every Detail of the Deceased’s Life

One common misconception is that an obituary needs to provide a complete and lengthy account of the deceased’s entire life. However, space limitations or the desire for privacy may prevent the inclusion of every detail. Obituaries are typically concise summaries that focus on the significant aspects of a person’s life and their impact on others.

  • Obituary can highlight key achievements, passions, and interests of the departed.
  • Including personal anecdotes and stories can provide a more intimate portrait of the person.
  • It is acceptable to omit certain details or focus on specific aspects to maintain privacy or highlight the most important aspects of the person’s life.

Obituaries Are Only Published in Newspapers

A misconception is that obituaries are solely published in newspapers. While newspapers remain popular avenues for obituary publication, technological advancements have expanded the ways in which obituaries can be shared. Online platforms, social media, and specialized memorial websites now allow for wider access to obituaries, enabling friends and family members from all over the world to participate in remembering the deceased.

  • Obituaries can be shared on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram.
  • Specialized websites or online platforms dedicated to memorializing loved ones are becoming increasingly popular.
  • Online obituaries often allow for interaction, comments, and the sharing of memories, creating a larger sense of community in honoring the deceased.

Obituaries Are Written Only After the Passing

While most obituaries are indeed written after a person has passed away, it is becoming more common for individuals to write their own obituaries in advance. This practice, sometimes called a “pre-mortem” or “living obituary,” allows individuals to have control over how they are remembered and what aspects of their life they want to highlight.

  • Pre-writing an obituary can provide an opportunity to share important messages and lessons with loved ones.
  • Writing a living obituary can be a way to reflect on one’s own life and accomplishments.
  • Living obituaries can serve as a guide for family members to write a more accurate and personalized posthumous obituary.

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Age at Death of Famous Writers

This table shows the age at which some well-known writers passed away. It is fascinating to see the variations in longevity among these literary figures.

Writer Age at Death
Mark Twain 74
Virginia Woolf 59
Ernest Hemingway 61
William Shakespeare 52
Emily Dickinson 55

Top Selling Books of All Time

This table showcases some of the highest-selling books in history, allowing us to appreciate the enduring popularity and impact of these literary works.

Book Title Number of Copies Sold
Don Quixote 500 million
A Tale of Two Cities 200 million
The Lord of the Rings 150 million
The Alchemist 150 million
The Little Prince 142 million

Word Count of Famous Novels

Explore the vast differences in the length of famous novels through this table, providing insight into the dedication required to complete these literary masterpieces.

Novel Word Count
War and Peace 561,996
Moby-Dick 206,052
Pride and Prejudice 122,394
The Great Gatsby 47,094
Animal Farm 29,966

Nobel Prize Winners in Literature by Country

This table sheds light on the distribution of Nobel Prize winners in Literature among different countries, showcasing the global diversity of exceptional literary talent.

Country Number of Nobel Prize Winners
United States 12
United Kingdom 12
France 15
Germany 13
Sweden 8

Classic Novels Adapted into Films

Discover some beloved classic novels that have made their way to the big screen through this table, proving the enduring impact of these literary works on popular culture.

Novel Number of Film Adaptations
Pride and Prejudice 14
Frankenstein 51
Moby-Dick 8
Dracula 170
To Kill a Mockingbird 4

Percentage of Book Sales by Genre

This table showcases the distribution of book sales across different genres, allowing us to better understand readers’ preferences and the popularity of various literary categories.

Genre Percentage of Book Sales
Mystery/Thriller 35%
Romance 20%
Science Fiction/Fantasy 15%
Biography/Memoir 10%
Historical Fiction 20%

Longest Time on the New York Times Bestseller List

Take a look at some books that enjoyed an incredibly long run on the New York Times Bestseller list, exemplifying their enduring popularity and widespread appeal.

Book Title Weeks on Bestseller List
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 331 weeks
The Da Vinci Code 146 weeks
The Catcher in the Rye 30 weeks
Gone Girl 154 weeks
The Help 131 weeks

Estimated Number of Published Books

Explore the vast number of books published throughout history, highlighting the rich literary output across different centuries.

Century Estimated Number of Published Books
15th 40,000
18th 150,000
19th 1,000,000
20th 16,000,000
21st (up to now) 32,000,000

Bestselling Children’s Book Series

Discover some of the most cherished and beloved children’s book series that have captivated young readers worldwide through this table.

Book Series Number of Copies Sold
Harry Potter 500 million
The Chronicles of Narnia 120 million
Goosebumps 400 million
Winnie-the-Pooh 70 million
The Hunger Games 65 million

Writing an obituary is both a solemn responsibility and an opportunity to honor the life and achievements of a person who has passed away. This article has explored various intriguing aspects related to writing obituaries, providing readers with insights into the lives of famous writers, the impact of their works, and interesting facts about the literary world.

Writing an Obituary – Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an obituary?

An obituary is a written notice that announces the death of a person along with details about their life, accomplishments, and funeral arrangements. It serves as a way to inform the public about the individual’s passing and to commemorate their life.

What information should be included in an obituary?

An obituary typically includes the full name of the deceased, their date and place of birth, date of death, information about their family, a brief biography or summary of their life, details about the funeral or memorial service, and any requests for donations or condolences.

How long should an obituary be?

The length of an obituary can vary depending on the preferences of the family and the publication or platform where it will be published. Generally, obituaries can range from a few paragraphs to a few pages. It is common to discuss the length with the newspaper or website where it will be submitted.

Should I use a template or write a personalized obituary?

It is advisable to write a personalized obituary that reflects the unique life of the deceased. While templates can be a useful starting point, customizing the obituary will give it a more personal touch and accurately capture the person’s character and achievements.

How do I begin writing an obituary?

To start writing an obituary, gather all the necessary information about the deceased, such as their full name, date and place of birth, education, career, community involvement, hobbies, and survivors. Begin by writing a brief introduction, followed by the person’s life story, and conclude with funeral details and ways to remember or honor the deceased.

Are there any specific guidelines for writing an obituary?

While there are no strict rules, here are some guidelines to consider:
– Keep it concise and focus on the highlights of the person’s life.
– Use a respectful and compassionate tone.
– Check for any specific requirements or guidelines from the publication or website where it will be published.
– Proofread carefully for accuracy and grammar.
– Consider including meaningful anecdotes or stories.

Can I include photographs in an obituary?

Yes, many obituaries feature a photograph of the deceased to provide a visual representation and to help readers remember the person. Make sure to choose a clear and recent photo that captures their essence.

Where can I publish an obituary?

Obituaries can be published in local newspapers, online news websites, memorial websites, social media platforms, and funeral home websites. Consider the preferences and reach of the deceased and their family when selecting the platform(s) for publication.

Can I write my own obituary in advance?

Yes, it is becoming increasingly common for individuals to write their own obituaries in advance. This allows them to ensure that their life story and legacy are accurately portrayed. You can keep a copy of it with your important documents or share it with a close family member or friend for safekeeping.

Are there any legal considerations when writing an obituary?

There are no specific legal requirements when writing an obituary. However, it is important to respect the privacy and rights of other individuals mentioned in the obituary, obtain necessary permissions to use copyrighted material, and avoid making false statements or defamatory remarks.