Writing a Eulogy and Obituary
We are happy to help you draft a eulogy or obituary that will honor your loved one and what made them unique and special to you and your family.
Writing an Obituary
The first of the details would, of course, be their name. If she was a married woman, you'll want to include her maiden name and if he or she was commonly known by a nickname, you may want to add that as well.
Other essential details to include when writing either a death notice or an obituary are:
- Their age upon death
- A list of the surviving relatives
- The date of a death
- The location (city/state) where they died
- Details about the funeral service: date, time, place
- Full name
- Date of death
- Where the person lived
We think it benefits the families we serve when we remind them of the simple truth: in writing an obituary for your loved one, you have the opportunity to serve future generations – not only of your immediate family but of the society as a whole. You are, in effect, recording history on an individual scale. It's a humbling yet inspiring thought; at least we think so.
It's very easy to find examples of obituaries that are worthy of attention. There are interesting obituaries for everyday folks that inspire us; maybe even make us cry or laugh. Obituaries which, when we're done reading them, we say to ourselves, "I wish I'd had a chance to get to know that person." Obituaries are scattered in cyberspace, acting as digital records of a life, a time, and a place; and recently, some very funny obituaries have been written.
Will writing our own obituaries become a trend? Maybe. We know many more people are writing their own obituaries today as it's often given as an assignment in certain college and university courses.
How you document your loved one's life story is up to you. With that said, we recommend that in addition to the facts of a death notice listed above, the enhanced death notice, known as an obituary, could also include these details:
- Parents' names
- Information about the spouse and children
- Church affiliations
- Job or career information
- Personal and professional accomplishments
- Personal character and interests
- Influence on his or her community
It's now time to push the facts aside. Sit back and think about the anecdotes and memories you could share to shed some light on your loved one's character and personal interests. Bring factual details into play whenever you can to help the reader clearly see who your loved one was, how they lived, what they did, who and what they loved. The more rich in detail, the more memorable the obituary becomes.
Double Check Spelling and Grammar. Before you give a copy of the final draft of your loved one's obituary, be sure to read it through twice or even three times or better, have a friend or relative proof read it for you. You're looking for errors in spelling and grammar but you also want to make sure your facts are straight.
Request to receive a proof from the newspaper before your obituary is printed if you're worried about mistakes. You probably don't have the time or energy to worry about it at this point, but if you're concerned about errors, ask if you can see a proof before it goes to press. Most newspapers won't allow you to look at a final copy, but if you put up a big enough fuss, many papers, especially small-town papers, will honor your request (we did). You may have to come into the newspaper office or have a copy faxed to you.
Submit the obituary to other newspapers. If there are other towns where your loved one lived and had a number of family or friends, you may want to submit the obit to those newspapers. Just check those newspapers' guidelines and modify the style of the obit as necessary.
Writing a Eulogy
1. Outline the Eulogy
In addition to helping you stay focused, an outline will keep your eulogy organized and effectively break down the task of writing into manageable pieces. Ask for the input of other family members and friends. They may be able to provide you with some great stories to share.
2. Share Examples
Always try to share examples of the statements you make about your loved one. If you want to say, "she was generous with her time," tell a story that supports the statement.
3. Focus on Them
Do not focus too much on yourself. After all, this isn't a eulogy for you; keep your writing focused on your loved one. You may even want to ask others to read your first draft to make sure the focus is in the right place.
4. Go for Humor
Shared laughter is a very healing experience so don't be afraid to make people laugh.
5. Write the First Draft
Don't fuss over every word; it can be a little messy and thrown together for a first draft. Just get your ideas down on paper or digital document.
6. Put it Aside for Awhile
This has, no doubt, been an emotional experience. Take some time away from the writing desk to get perspective and release stress or sorrow.
7. Put it Aside for Awhile
After a good shift in perspective or getting some things off your chest, come back to edit and polish. This is the time to refine the eulogy into its final form.
8. Print a Copy
Print a legible copy of the eulogy, in a large font, to assist in the delivery of your well-chosen words. Avoid reading from a phone or other smart device unless it can be concealed. There's nothing worse than not being able to read your handwriting when you're standing in front of a crowd of people.