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Writing can be hard at the best of times - when you’re writing an obituary, it can be downright devastating. This brief guide was designed to help you through this process. We’ll go over the standard obituary format, then give you some tips on how you can write the more personal parts of the piece:
Obituaries have a pretty standardized format. You’ll start with the basic facts: the person’s name, date of birth, birthplace, age, and date of death. You can also include where they were located at the time of their death, and the cause of their death, if you so choose.
After that, you’ll get into the more personal section of the obituary. This will include details about their life, their passions, their career, their accomplishments, and important life events and memories. We’ll delve deeper into how you can write the more personal part of the obituary in the next section.
Finally, you’ll end the obituary by listing the person’s relatives, living or deceased. Typically, you’ll only list immediate family (siblings, parents, and children) - most obituaries only contain the number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren a person has, not all of their names.
First, take stock of how you feel. The personal details can be the most difficult part of the obituary to write - thinking deeply about a person who has passed away can stir up strong emotions. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try relaxation techniques like deep breathing.
Before you put pen to paper, you want to think about the tone that you want the obituary to have. This can be a bit difficult - a good place to start is thinking about your loved one’s personality. If you’re writing a jokester’s obituary, you’ll probably want a somewhat comedic tone. On the other hand, if you’re writing an obituary for someone fairly serious, that’s the tone you’ll want to strike.
Some people find it easier to start by writing the obituary in the present tense, then changing it to the past tense once they’re done. This doesn’t work for everyone, but if you’re finding the obituary hard to start, it’s worth trying.
You might have a host of different memories you want to include in the obituary - your loved one’s friends and family will, too. Swapping these stories can help you better understand the way people see your loved one - and it can help you find the perfect stories to include.
You don’t have to go it alone. If you’re not sure about a particular line, or if you want a second (or third, or fourth) pair of eyes to look over the obituary, ask someone. You can ask someone you love, someone you trust as a writer - you can even ask us. We’re here to help.
There are some questions you can ask yourself to guide the tone, style, and content of the obituary. Here are a few:
Our trusted funeral home in Winnipeg has been around for a long time, and our goal is to provide you with as many resources as we can during what can be an incredibly trying time. If you have any questions or need more resources for writing an obituary, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.