Writing an Obituary

The following is a guideline for writing an obituary. However, our funeral directors will be happy to write the obituary for your family if you can provide us with the information you would like included. Familiarize yourself with the information below so that you have an understanding of what is needed by the funeral director.

What is an obituary?

More than merely a "good-bye" to the deceased, this is a farewell which can, in chronological order, detail the life of the deceased. An obituary also serves as notification that an individual has passed away and details of the services that are to take place. An obituary's length may be somewhat dictated by the space available in the newspaper it is to appear in. Therefore it's best to check how much room you have before you begin your composition. Remember that the obituary needs to appear in print a few days prior to the memorial service. There are some cases where this may not be possible, therefore give some consideration to the guidelines below when composing the obituary.

What to include?

Naturally, it is vital that the full name, along with the location and date of passing is included so that there is no confusion over who has died. You may wish to consider placing a photograph (which can appear as black & white or in color depending on the newspaper's layout) with the text. There are usually extra charges applied if you are thinking of using a photograph. If you wish, mention where the deceased resided. In a concise manner, write about the significant events in the life of the deceased. This may include the schools he or she attended and any degrees attained; whether or not the deceased was a veteran of a branch of service and any awards received; any clubs or organizations he was involved in; or any particular hobbies or interests he may have had.

Survivors

It is common to include a list of those who have survived the deceased. The list should include (where applicable):

  • Parents
  • Spouse and children
  • Adopted children
  • Half & step children
  • Siblings
  • Half & step siblings
  • Grandparents

The surviving relatives listed above may be listed by name (with the spouse's name included if so desired) and their town of residence. Other relatives may or may not want to be mentioned by name but may be included in terms of their relationship to the deceased. In other words, the obituary may mention that the deceased had 5 grandchildren; 7 nieces etc. However, exceptions to the above rule can be made if, for example, the deceased only had one grandchild or a nephew who was the only person living in the newspaper's distribution area. These exceptions are obviously made based on the desires of the family making the arrangements.

At this point list the details of the time and location of any services for the deceased: these may include the funeral, burial, wake and memorial service where appropriate.

Additional information such as where the body will be laid to rest and any pallbearer's names or names of honorary pallbearers may be mentioned.

Final considerations

Seeing as most newspapers charge by the word when placing an obituary, it may not always be feasible to mention everything that we have stated in our guidelines. Use your own discretion and do not put yourself under any financial hardship. Your loved one would understand.


Houghlin-Greenwell Funeral Home and Cremation Services 1475 New Shepherdsville Road Bardstown, KY 40004 (502) 348-8858 info@houghlingreenwell.com

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