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How to Write an Unforgettable Obituary

Getty Images / Daniel Ingold

A well-told life story is an act of love. Here's how to make it memorable.

Most people go their whole lives without their life story being written. An obituary is the place where we inscribe their memory into the book of forever.

“With a voice like buttermilk, no one else could sing a ballad like Curtis. He had the skill to figure out what was going on with individuals who gathered around his piano, and then he played a song that would comfort them or lift them up. It made him very happy when audiences walked away with all he could give them.”

“Kim pursued and achieved her dream of becoming a soldier in the United States Army, but her life was cut short by an explosive device while deployed in Iraq.  She completed her mission doing what she loved: serving this great nation.”

“When Victor entered heaven on May 23, he was reunited with his loving wife of 60 years, Lucille. He was a strong man with a big heart, who never met a stranger. Dad’s famous last words: ‘I am ready to go dancing and romancing.’ We truly believe he is doing that now.”

These stories stand as a monument to our loved ones’ lives. If we only share them in a social media post, they soon float away downstream. That’s why we memorialize them in an obituary — it’s a permanent tribute anyone can visit, whenever we’re moved to cherish those memories.

Whether or not your loved one has ever been written about before, this is your chance to immortalize their life. A meaningful obituary is so much more than a death notice — it’s a life story, a celebration of a person who was the only one just like them.

Here are seven short, simple tips for writing an obituary that will stick in people’s hearts forever after.

1. Start with a story. What was a moment that defined what kind of person they were? Begin with a few sentences telling that story — that’s how you’ll capture people’s hearts.

2. Announce the death. The details of their passing can follow next. When did they die? Where? What was the cause (if you want to discuss that)? 

3. Tell where they grew up and why that mattered. Everyone’s life has a beginning. Who raised them? Where? How did their early days point toward their life to follow?

4. Tell what they loved. What got them excited? A hobby or a cause, an accomplishment or an appreciation — what did they talk about the most? Faith, music, work, charity, family life? Share whatever it is that they’d be eager to tell someone about.

5. Tell whom they loved. Almost everyone had someone in their life, sometime, who meant the world to them. Whether that’s a spouse, children, parents, a best friend, a dear teacher — take a few words and remember the relationships that were the most important to them and why.

6. Tell what you’ll remember most about them. It can be both sad and joyful to think about what we’ll miss after our loved one dies. Putting it into words keeps them closer to us in spirit — and it brings all of us who remember them closer together in love.

7. Share the memorial service arrangements. When and where will the funeral and/or memorial services be held? And what charitable donations, family support, or other special arrangements, if any, are being requested?

To place an obituary in your local news, just click through here to find the obituary submission guidelines for your community.



 

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