By Teddy CipollaThu. 16 Nov. 20233min Read

How to Write an Obituary

Learn how to write an obituary in the most respectful manner possible and pay a graceful dedication to your lost loved one, friend, or family member. Check out PDF Reader Pro's Obituary PDF Template for help writing your own.
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Writing an obituary is a deeply personal and meaningful task.

It's a way to honor a loved one's life and share their story with others.

PDF Reader Pro understands the importance of this task and offers tools to help you create a fitting tribute.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the process.


What is an Obituary?

Before you start writing your obituary, we recommend you gain a better understanding of the true value this document serves. 

An obituary is a written announcement of a person's death, typically published in newspapers and online platforms. It serves several key purposes:

  1. Notification of Death: At its core, an obituary informs the public of an individual's passing. It's a formal way to communicate this news to the community and extended network of the deceased.

  2. Celebration of Life: Beyond the basic facts of death, obituaries often encapsulate the essence of the person's life. They highlight significant accomplishments, personal characteristics, and the roles they played in their family and community. An obituary celebrates the life lived and the impact the person had on those around them.

  3. Record of History: For many families, an obituary is also a historical record. It documents the life of a family member for future generations, capturing details that might otherwise be lost.

  4. Information on Memorial Services: Obituaries commonly include details about the funeral or memorial services, providing information on the date, time, and location of these events.

  5. Means of Closure: For those grieving, writing and reading an obituary can be a therapeutic process, offering a way to process the loss and begin healing. It allows for a public acknowledgment of grief and a celebration of the person's influence and memories.

  6. Community Connection: By sharing anecdotes, personal traits, and achievements, obituaries help connect the community, allowing others to relate to and remember the person who has passed.

In essence, an obituary is more than just a death announcement; it's a tribute to a person's life, a celebration of their journey, and a meaningful way to acknowledge their departure.

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Considerations When Writing an Obituary

When tasked with writing an obituary, there are several important factors to consider to ensure that the final tribute is respectful, accurate, and reflective of the person's life.


Here are key elements to keep in mind:

  1. Tone and Style: The tone of the obituary should match the personality and life of the deceased. For a person with a more serious demeanor, a formal and respectful tone is appropriate. For someone known for their humor or light-heartedness, it might be fitting to include a sense of that in the writing.

  2. Length and Detail: Consider the medium where the obituary will be published. Newspaper obituaries often have word count limits, while online platforms might allow for more extensive tributes. Balance the need to include essential details with the constraints of your chosen medium.

  3. Personal and Sensitive Information: Decide how much personal information to include. Be cautious about including details that could be misused, such as exact birth dates or addresses. Also, consider family dynamics when mentioning survivors or predeceased family members to avoid unintentional hurt feelings or disputes.

  4. Cultural and Religious Considerations: Be mindful of any cultural or religious traditions that may influence the content and presentation of the obituary. This might include specific phrases, references to religious texts, or the inclusion of certain rituals or symbols.

  5. Accuracy: Double-check all factual information, including dates, names, and places. Errors in an obituary can be upsetting for family members and friends.

  6. Photographs: If you're including a photograph, choose one that is recent and reflects how the person is best remembered. The photo should be clear and dignified.

  7. Final Farewells: Some families choose to include a final message or farewell, which could be a quote, a poem, or a few words of gratitude and love. This can be a touching way to conclude the obituary.

  8. Review Process: Having a family member or close friend review the obituary before it's published is crucial. They can provide feedback, ensure accuracy, and confirm that the content is a fitting tribute.

  9. Public versus Private Information: Decide what should be public knowledge and what might be too private or sensitive to share. This is particularly relevant when discussing the cause of death or any challenges the deceased may have faced.

  10. Memorial Information: Include clear information about any memorial services, donations, or other ways people can pay their respects. Be specific about dates, times, locations, and any requests the family has regarding flowers, donations, or other forms of tribute.

Remember, an obituary is not just a death notice; it's a lasting record and celebration of a person's life. 

Taking the time to consider these aspects can help create a meaningful and respectful obituary.

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How to Write an Obituary

Writing an obituary is a unique way to honor a loved one's journey through life.

It's a special message that captures their essence, remembers their life experiences, and announces their passing to the world.

We're here to guide you through this process, helping you create a traditional obituary or a personalized death notice that resonates with those who knew the deceased person.

Gathering Personal Details

Begin by compiling all personal details of the deceased person. This should include:

  • Full name, including any nicknames or maiden names
  • Age at death
  • Date and place of birth
  • Date and place of death
  • Military affiliations or military service, if applicable
  • List of family members, both surviving and predeceased

Crafting the Life Story

In this section, delve into the life story of your loved one. This could include:

  • Educational background and career achievements
  • Marriage details and significant relationships
  • Involvement in community service or hobbies
  • A favorite memory or anecdote that highlights their personality



Mentioning Funeral and Memorial Service Details

Here, provide information regarding the funeral service, memorial service, or any special memorial details. This may include:

  • Date, time, and location of the funeral or memorial service
  • Details about any military service honors, if applicable
  • Information on where donations can be made in lieu of flowers

Writing a Death Announcement

Compose a brief death announcement that succinctly mentions the key details of the deceased's passing. This includes their name, age at death, date of passing, and a short message about their life.

Including Special Messages and Memories

Add a special message or share a favorite memory that encapsulates the spirit of the deceased. This could be a personal reflection, a notable accomplishment, or a story that signifies their battle with challenges like a battle with cancer.

Sharing the Obituary

Finally, distribute the obituary to family, friends, and necessary publications. PDF Reader Pro enables easy conversion of your document into various formats for sharing or printing.

Remember, an obituary serves as a final farewell and a celebration of the life lived. As a freelance writer or a family member tasked with this responsibility, take your time to ensure the obituary reflects the true essence of the deceased. With PDF Reader Pro, this important task becomes more manageable, allowing you to create a heartfelt and dignified tribute.

How to Write an Obituary: Best Practices

Writing an obituary can be a cathartic process, offering a way to encapsulate a loved one's life in words.

While there are no strict legal requirements for the content of an obituary, adhering to certain best practices can help you create a meaningful and respectful tribute.

Focus on Essential and Factual Details

Begin with the essential details: the deceased's full name, age, date and place of both birth and death, and any significant branches of service, such as military service. Ensuring these factual details are accurate is crucial.

Highlight Personal Characteristics

Dedicate a portion of the obituary to personal characteristics. This could include personal insights into the individual's character, interests, and contributions to the community. Highlighting these personal aspects brings the obituary to life and allows readers to connect with the deceased's story.

Include Service Times and Locations

Clearly communicate the service times and locations, whether it's a graveside service, public service, or a more private ceremony. If a cemetery service is planned, provide the necessary details for those who wish to attend.

Get a Second Pair of Eyes

Before finalizing the obituary, have another pair of eyes review it. This can help catch any errors and ensure the tone and content are appropriate. Sharing this task can also be a way to share memories and reflect on the life of the loved one.

Use Spare Time Wisely

Writing an obituary can be emotional, so take your time. Use your spare time to reflect on the life of your loved one and gather thoughts from other family members and friends, which can add depth to your tribute.

PDF Reader Pro's Obituary PDF Template

To ease the process of writing an obituary, PDF Reader Pro offers a specialized Obituary PDF Template.

This template is designed to help you organize and present all the necessary information in a dignified and respectful format. 

It provides a structured layout for the essential details, factual information, and personal insights, ensuring that nothing important is overlooked.

How to Write an Obituary: FAQ

Should I include the circumstances of death in the obituary?

Including the circumstances of death is a personal choice. Some families choose to include this information, especially if it reflects on the life and character of the deceased, such as a long battle with an illness. However, it's also completely acceptable to omit these details if you prefer privacy.

How detailed should the obituary be?

A complete obituary typically includes key personal information, a brief overview of the life story, details about the funeral or memorial service, and a list of surviving family members. The level of detail depends on your comfort and the space available if publishing in a newspaper.

Is it necessary to list all family members?

While it's customary to include the names of close family members, you don't need to list everyone. Focus on those who were closest to the deceased. For extended family, general terms like "loved by many cousins, nieces, and nephews" can be used.

Are there alternative ways to honor someone in an obituary?

Yes, you can explore alternative ways to honor the deceased, such as highlighting their personal characteristics or sharing fond memories. Some obituaries include anecdotes or quotes that reflect the beautiful life and character of the beautiful person they're remembering.

Can I share a personal story in the obituary?

Absolutely. Sharing personal stories or clearest memories can make the obituary more heartfelt and personal. These anecdotes provide a glimpse into the life and personality of the deceased and can be a source of comfort to those who knew them.

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