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How to Write a Good Obituary Notice

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Published 06/08/2020
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How to Write a Good Obituary Notice
After a loved one has passed away, the grief can be overwhelming and it may be difficult to focus on what to do next. For many people, an obituary is a first step. It allows them to notify others of the death and funeral details, and also provides an opportunity to share memories of the deceased.

So, where do you begin? Although every obituary is different, most follow a similar structure. In this blog I will go through this step-by-step, which will hopefully help you in what is undoubtedly a daunting task.

What to Write in an Obituary

First thing’s first: the name. On funeral-notices.co.uk, you will find notices which have appeared in hundreds of different newspapers from across the UK. In the majority of these papers, the surname will appear at the very top of the notice – most often capitalised and in bold – and the first name (and middle name if desired) will appear in bold on the line below. In some cases, the line below that will display a maiden name, also written in bold and with “Nee” in front to indicate this.

Many newspapers include an ‘Additional Information’ box below the name, offering a chance to add extra wording at the top of the notice. Some people will use this to include a nickname, whilst others will note the deceased’s date of birth and date of death. In some papers – such as the Newcastle Chronicle – many will include the area where the deceased lived, while in the Liverpool Echo it is mandatory for any obituary to state the date of death beneath the name at the top of the notice.

“Passed away at _ on _ aged _ years” is the most commonly used structure for the beginning of a notice. This clearly displays the details of the passing, which is usually the first thing people will look for when they see a notice in the paper/online. However there are variations to this. Some choose to say that the deceased “passed away peacefully”, whilst some will include more detail on the passing, for example “passed away from Covid-19.” It is best to keep the opening paragraph short and save extra detail for later on in the obituary.

The middle paragraph usually will contain the bulk of the obituary, listing family members of the deceased and sometimes sharing memories of them. Some notices will have only a handful of relatives listed – e.g. “father to _, partner to _” – whilst others will have everyone from the closest relatives right the way to great-great grandchildren and cousins. Again, this is just personal preference and there’s no lower or upper limit to this.

From there, families who wish to include a further eulogy to their loved one can go into detail in areas such as their work, hobbies and achievements. In some publications (such as the Liverpool Echo), family members will often place ‘support notices’ to go alongside the obituary in the paper, which often contain more personal wording. Funeral-notices.co.uk offers users the chance to leave personal messages on obituaries, which may provide comfort to family and friends.

Details of the funeral and/or cremation will usually feature in the last paragraph. Some will also include the contact details of the Funeral Directors, and also common is to add a suggested charity, to raise donations in memory of their loved one. It is now possible to collect donations for a chosen charity on funeral-notices.co.uk, which will allow those viewing an obituary to donate quickly and easily to the cause.

Hopefully this blog will have provided you with useful information on how to structure your obituary, and take a first step after a loved one has passed away.

For more information on how to place a notice, please click here.
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