How To Write An Obituary
How to give Eulogies
A simple checklist for making sure your obituary honors and informs.
When a loved one has passed away, writing an obituary that honors their life can seem overwhelming. Don’t worry - your obituary will honor their life simply by the act of you writing it. You want to celebrate your loved one’s life and offer happy or enjoyable memories. You are helping to ease the pain of others simply by telling a story about your loved one.
We hope that this checklist will take the stress and pressure off of you and allow you to honor your loved one simply. Remember, your funeral arranger is an experienced professional, and he/she is a valuable resource for writing the obituary.
Writing an obituary is a difficult and emotional task. First, you will need to gather information from family and friends of the deceased about their childhood,
education, career and hobbies and interests. As well, speak to the funeral home to receive any important information on the date, time and location of any funeral service, or other funeral related events. Using the template will help make the process easier and will ensure you write a properly structured obituary.
Replace all CAPITALS below with the appropriate information.
[GIVEN NAME] [MIDDLE NAME [“NICKNAME”] [LAST NAME], [AGE], of [CITY],
[STATE], passed away on [DATE OF DEATH] at [LOCATION].
[NAME] was born in [LOCATION OF BIRTH] to [PARENT’S NAMES] on [DATE OF
BIRTH]. He/she went to high school at [SCHOOL NAME] and graduated in [YEAR]. He/
she went on to earn a degree/certificate in [DEGREE TYPE] from [SCHOOL NAME].
He/she worked as a [JOB TYPE] for [COMPANY] for [NUMBER OF YEARS]. He/she
enjoyed [ACTIVITIES/HOBBIES]. He/she received [AWARDS/HONORS] and was
involved in [CHARITIES/ORGANIZATIONS].
[NAME] was preceded in death by his/her [RELATION], [NAME] [SPOUSE]. (List all
survivors: spouse, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, parents, siblings,
nieces and nephews.)
[NAME] is survived by his/her [RELATION], [NAME] [SPOUSE]. (List all survivors:
spouse, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, parents, siblings, nieces and
Visitation will be held on [DATE] at [TIME] at [LOCATION NAME], [LOCATION
ADDRESS], with Funeral/Memorial service to follow at [TIME AND DATE]. Burial will
follow at [CEMETERY NAME], [MAILING ADDRESS]. [NAME OF FUNERAL HOME] will
be handling the funeral arrangements.
The family wishes to extend their gratitude to [ORGANIZATION/NAME].
Remember most newspapers charge by the word, this template is good for getting
all the information necessary in as few words possible. However, this template is
not written in stone. You can make any adjustments you feel necessary.
1. Include all the basic details about the person’s life.
You don’t have to include all of this information, but here are the basics that are often included in an obituary. Choose the elements that are most relevant to your loved one:
- Any familial survivors
- When the person retired, if relevant
- Any military affiliations
- Any volunteer affiliations
2. Include funeral information.
Family and friends often rely on an obituary for information on when and where a person’s life will be celebrated, so your obituary will make it very simple for them to get that information (and will save you the hassle of having to answer lots of questions at a time when you would prefer not to be bothered with small details). You can include:
- Date and time of the funeral
- Place the funeral is being held
- Any viewing details
- Requests for donations in lieu of flowers
Giving a meaningful, moving eulogy can be a nerve-racking situation for even the most accomplished public speaker, but it need not be. How can you summarize somebody’s life in a
few short minutes, while being both somber and funny at the same time? Writing and delivering a eulogy is a therapeutic tool to help deal with your grief, and being chosen to give a eulogy is an honor and should be treated that way. Here are some tips for writing and delivering an eloquent and memorable eulogy.
• Gather information. Talk with family members, close friends and co-workers to get important
information on the deceased. Some important information to include in the eulogy is the person’s family and other close relationships, their education/career, hobbies or special interests, places the person lived or traveled too, and any special accomplishments they had.
• Organize your thoughts. Jot down your ideas by whatever means are most comfortable and familiar to you. Create an outline of your speech, and fill in the information that you gathered about the person.
• Write it down. This is not a toast at a wedding where you can make off-the-cuff remarks, and you should not ad-lib a eulogy. Writing it all down allows you to include and remember every detail you wanted in your eulogy. When you bring a copy of your eulogy to the podium make sure it is easy to read, print it out in a large font, or if hand-written leave a few spaces between the lines. Keep in mind your time constraints, it’s best to keep things on the short side,
especially if there are other speakers.
• Review and Revise. Your first draft will not be the last. When you think you are done, sleep on it and look it over in the morning when it is fresh again, that will be the time to make any necessary revisions.
• Practice, Practice, Practice. Read over your eulogy several times in order to become familiar with it. Practice in front of a mirror, read it over to some friends or family and have them
give you feedback. Become familiar with your speech so you can recite it without making it look like you’re reading from a script. The more you practice the more comfortable you will be.
• Make them laugh, but be respectful. A funeral is not a roast, however there is room for humor in your eulogy. Fondly remember a story about the person that everyone can relate too. Keep it appropriate, there will be children and the elderly there that may not share the same sense of humor. Laughter is truly the best medicine, and some well-placed humor will help people cope, and will bring back fond memories of the deceased.
• Don’t be afraid to show emotion. Funerals are an
extremely emotional event, nobody expects you not to shed a few tears. However, if you feel that you will be too strongly overcome by your emotions, have a back-up plan in place where someone you trust can deliver the eulogy for you. Give them a copy well in advance if you feel this could
be an issue.
• Have a glass of water as well as tissues handy.
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