When dealing with the loss of a loved one, the task of writing an obituary can be overwhelming. There isn’t a class, manual, or exercise that truly prepares anyone for this. The obituary is an opportunity important way to honor and celebrate their life and serves many purposes. An obituary informs the community of the death, invites loved ones to attend services and offer support, and acknowledges your personal loss. Obituaries are often placed online and in the St. Louis obituary columns of local newspapers to reach a wider audience.
Remember to be patient and kind with yourself during this difficult time, and use these guidelines to highlight the special qualities of your loved one while relaying pertinent information.
Elements of an Obituary
- Death Announcement- this is where you will list the basic facts about the individual. Full name, city of residence, age at time of death, and manner of death. These items can be listed pragmatically or in a novel manner.
- Life Story- this does not need to be a complete biography and can include items such as place of birth, marriage, education, military service, religion/church membership, hobbies and other interests. You may wish to share a memory or accentuate the impact the person had on your life and others.
- Family Members- traditionally, both surviving family members and those who preceded the deceased in passing are included. Immediate family such as spouse or significant other, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren are appropriate to include. Blended family members can also be included. You may want to consider other important people in the lives of your loved one such as extended family friends, and even pets
- Funeral and Service Information- here you will include date, time and location of any visitation, memorial and burial service. Include the name of the funeral home so attendees can get more information, if needed. Specify if the service will be private.
- In Lieu of Flowers- many choose a charity to which loved ones can donate in lieu of sending flowers. Select a charity the deceased was a part of, or a charity that highlights a specific illness to raise awareness. Some choose to start a memorial fund for family members or a scholarship for the deceased alma mater.
- Photo- the right photo will complete the obituary and bring the entire picture to life. A portrait works best. It does not have to be a recent photo. Consider using a photo that reflects the way your loved one would want to be remembered.
Things to Remember
- There is no right or wrong way to write an obituary. A person is more than a list of statistics, and an obituary can reflect the uniqueness of the individual. Personality quirks, a sense of humor, favorite saying or quote can give the reader a complete picture of your loved one. With that in mind, it is important to remember that the obituary is not a eulogy. As much as you may want to share an outpouring of emotion, remember that the obituary is public record and should be abbreviated to the facts and most important thoughts.
- Consider writing the obituary before death occurs. It may seem awkward, but, when possible, speaking with your loved one about the obituary is an opportunity to reminisce and discuss important events. It can offer closure not available in most circumstances. It also allows the loved one to take an active role in end of life circumstances.
- Help is available. In addition to many online resources offering examples and templates, Bi-State Cremation and Funeral Services can also guide you through this difficult process.
From composing an obituary to planning a St. Louis funeral home service, call us today at (314) 831-8868. Our caring professional staff is here to help you each step of the way.