When publishing an obit for a loved one there are a number of obituary guidelines that you should follow. The guide below covers the five main sections of an obituary. It will not only tell you what to include in an obituary, but will provide you some insight on what information is optional or not appropriate to include.
This is the formal announcement of the death. Include the person’s first name, middle name, last name and suffix (if applicable). You can also include their nickname if they were often referred to by it. It is customary to include the person’s age, though sometimes the family will choose to have this omitted. Next, include their residence (city/state) at the time of death as well as the date of death. The place of death (i.e. at home, in a care home) and cause of death (i.e. natural causes, died suddenly) are both optional.
The date of birth and place of birth are listed next. You will then want to provide the names of their parent’s and can include their childhood residence (where they grew up). If the person was married, include the spouse’s first name and maiden name, the wedding date and location as well as the number of years they were married. Next, you will want to include some information about their life. Start with listing the education they received including the school names, graduation dates and degrees/designations received. Follow this with their work history. It is most important to include the last job they had and list the company name, their position and the years worked. You can also include previous employment history. Next, you will want to write about their interests and achievements. Include the hobbies, activities, interests, sports teams as well as any awards or recognitions they received. Finally, write about their military history (if any) as well as any associations they belonged to, such as political, fraternal, charitable or religious organizations.
Start by listing the relatives who are predeceased. This includes a spouse, children, grandchildren, siblings and other relatives. Next, list surviving relatives. Typically they are written in this order: spouse, children and their spouse, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, parents, grandparents, siblings and their spouse, nieces, nephews and other relatives.
Start by including information about the funeral service. List the funeral home’s name and address, also the day, month, year and time of the service. You should also include the officiant and name of any pallbearers and honorary pallbearers. The visitation information is listed next. This is typically immediately before, or a day before, the funeral service. Include the location, day, month, year and time of the visitation. Next, there is often a reception or wake after the funeral service. Include the location, day, month, year and time of the reception/wake. Sometimes there are other memorial events including the burial, interment, entombment or scatterings. Include these details if applicable. Finally, you should often include the name of the funeral home that is handling the arrangements.
Some families will request that donations be sent to a meaningful organization instead of sending flowers. Include the organization(s) name and address. Many people also include a thank you message at the end where they thank people or organizations that helped care for their loved one or assisted with the funeral arrangements. Finally, you may want to include some closing words. This could be a poem, hymn, verse or other significant phrase. You can also let readers of the obituary know where they can leave condolences – typically on an online memorial.
For more help with obituary guidelines and instructions on writing an obituary, view one of our obituary templates or obituary format guides.